Click Map for Details

Flag Counter

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Respectability vs. Usefulness

What status symbol are you most tempted to pursue? Why is it appealing? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, pp. 493-4).

The status symbols I hold dear include:
  1. A “respectable” job that telegraphs a measure of achievement—especially one that suggests some level of mental achievement.
  2. A “respectable” income level—safely middle class.
  3. A “respectable” car—fairly new (not a beat up clunker trailing smoke).
  4. A “respectable” measure of educational achievement (somewhat more than “average”).
  5. A “respectable” appearance—clean, bathed, presentable clothes, something suggestive of middle class; good dental appearance.
  6. A “respectable” level of independence—someone who occasionally can think outside the box and be “respectfully” creative.
  7. A “respectable” marriage status for someone my age—married.
  8. A “respectable” reputation for being acceptably articulate, level-headed, with broad sympathies—someone with good judgment.
  9. A “respectable” level of social skills—can mingle acceptably with diverse groups ultimately derived from a feeling of innate equality with others.
  10. A “respectable” winsomeness—not self-righteous, judgmental or having weird religious, political, or social beliefs—religious, but not too religious; interested in politics, but not a fanatic; having confident opinions in many areas, but not to the level of being strident or blatantly opinionated thus being incapable of listening to others.
Since all the above status symbols include “respectability” the obvious question is “Can I be of any use?” Since I am so concerned about what other people think, is there any chance whatever that I can make any significant difference? I suppose I have to narrow the field and ask, “respectable” to whom? Hopefully, extremists, supremacists, hate groups, thugs, snobs, fanatics, racists, the self-righteous, and the rapacious will find me unrespectable and disgustingly unacceptable. Preoccupation over respectability is not necessarily a bad thing so long as one does not fall into the trap of thinking that universal acceptability is desirable or even possible—the harboring of a deep-seated emotional need that one be universally liked and loved. Such a yearning is really what dooms one from achieving usefulness. One has to choose sides favoring the forces of light. As dangerous and filled with peril as moral discernment can be, at some minimal level it is simply necessary.

Print Page