Thursday, 17 March 2016

Achievement abuse

The pressure to "achieve" is relentless.

I don't just mean, get a good job or whatever. I mean to make something of your life -  to become a "useful/normal" member of society. We are told to get over our crap - sure, take time to work through it, so long as you actually "get better" - there's only so much "compassion" we are allowed to receive before it's time to move on and get back into the system.

In christian circles especially, this is a type of subtle but powerful abuse. Yep, that's right - abuse!

We use a combination of capitalism and the "protestant work ethic" backed by the twisted dogma of religion that demands we fit in to a mould - that we all look and behave the same, allowing just enough diversity so it appears we are tolerant.

This covers every aspect of life! Our personal goals and ambitions, our work ethic, relationships, mental health, finances, politics... All are neatly framed by expectations to conform, but most importantly, to "succeed".

Our ability to conform has become the measure of our success.

We are given all the help we need as long as we can measure the results of that help in terms of becoming "functional" members of society. And for christians, that means "functional" members of church. We measure relationship with God (our validity as a christian) by how much we have achieved. This includes our level of "obedience to God", our "ministry", our "service", having the perfect family, good finances (prospering) and a great smile that shows how we have "overcome".

But what if those measures of success are totally arbitrary? What if they are actually destroying us - destroying who we really are - our true identity? What if the pressure they put on us is slowly killing us?

What if there were no expectations to be anything other than who we are, and encouraged to simply find love in ourselves and everyone else?

All cultures have inflicted this on its people in some form. Christianity excels at it, especially as it bases it all on being pleasing to God. It makes God out to be the one who wants us to achieve the right (righteous) results, and excuses this abuse of our core identity and self worth by claiming it's the way God decrees it.

We are not broken. We are not miserable sinners desperately needing some external magic God to save us. We don't need to fit any mould. We are all completely unique, and when we are given the freedom to be just that, we'll all function together in ways we never imagined!