Last weekend we took a short trip to Seattle. The drive down was uneventful although there’s almost a wall of politeness that you palpably exit through at about 3 miles down the I-5. Somewhere around Custer you can feel the comforting reserve of Canadians fall away. It’s like switching from soft focus to VERY HIGH DEFINITION. The shoulders come up, the car seat feels like someone has adjusted it to “Military Victorian Father” position, no eye contact is made at traffic lights and you will have to wait a very long time before someone lets you into a queue. However, as we drove I kept on thinking “ooh, I remember this place we’re nearly there” and then would see a sign telling me we still had quite a way to go. This was the first time I ever really noticed how generic every town is becoming. Every mall has the same giant outlet stores, every gas station sign announces the same three big names, every hotel, every restaurant – everything is a franchise and it seems to be quite difficult to seek out anything new and different. I know consistency is nice, and no one wants to feel like they’re on the fearsome up and downs of a rollercoaster .. but on the other hand, a rollercoaster than just went along a flat thing at a moderately acceptable speed wouldn’t be an awful lot of fun would it?
Another thing that I noticed in the stores was the constant exhortation to “be yourself!”, “express yourself” and to “show your true colours”. Doesn’t that seem a little odd, if not impossible, considering we are now all buying our clothes and furniture from the same stores? And yet the idea of individuality is so highly prized – and it’s what we all long for! Individuality can be defined as special, exceptional, unique or distinctive. Who doesn’t want to be described in those terms? Do we really believe that we can buy those qualities? That the wearing of a certain shirt could transform us into a rare being, or that we can set ourselves apart merely by the putting on of a hat? I suppose that would depend entirely on the hat!
It seems that is what you get if you’re rich, the ability to buy originals and possess items that no one else can have thus rarefying yourself still further. Some of the saddest words in the world are “bought by a private collector” – which usually means some swine is now gloating over the removal of access to an object of joy and wonderment from the lives of the masses.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this – if you’re a Christian, you ARE set apart and like the raisins in a cookie – no amount of mixing and blending will take that away – although, inevitably, some people just aren’t going to like you.
John 15:19 English Standard Version (ESV)
19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.