Saturday, December 20, 2003

For the past week and a half I've been wanting to post something substantial on this blog, but I've been so busy that I haven't had the energy. I'm more in the mood to write just before I go to bed, or just after I wake up. But these days, I wake up to a deadline, or rather, usually I'm running a little late for a deadline. And by the time I get home at night, my only serious interest is going to bed.

Last night, though, I was thinking Merton-inspired thoughts. I wanted to blog about the brotherhood of man and what it means to be an individual.

Individuality is a concept I've had difficulty with. A few times in my life, I've been asked to think about what it meant to be me. Who was I, at core? Not to list the sort of things that I do, or that I like, or that I want. But who I really am when all of those things are taken away.

One of the problems of the modern world, I think, is that we don't give much credence to individual worth. As Americans, we're filled with that liberal spirit of rugged individualism. But that's a different thing from respecting the individual. As largely secular peoples in the western world, we have a problem crediting the person with a soul. It's one of the reasons that we're so quick to discard a "fetus" at its "hosts" whim. We think that a child who's so small that he can't want things, or do things we can visually measure, isn't a someone at all.

But we are given a separate view from religion. As human beings, created by God, and infused with His breath of life, we have an identity separate from anything stemming in our selves. Our identity rests in God, who is always, and always was. So our identity exists for all time, even before we're ever materially conceived, and certainly after we've ceased struggling on this mortal coil.

As human beings, we are individuals, and part of the collective. Though each man is responsible for the saving of his own soul, every day we are helping every one we see to their eventual destination, be it heaven or hell. Though each of us has a distinct identity in God which existed even before our conception of self did, we are members of the body of Christ, and members of one another.

At our best, man is simultaneously his most individual - that is, most in tune with his true identity in Christ - and most a part of human society - that is, fulfilling his role in God's plan through interaction with other men.

More on this later, I have to run.