Thursday, February 3, 2011

Say the Truth

Tonight at Bethel University, at a gathering for student leaders, a young man from the Dominican Republic spoke about how God used a young woman named Ashley to change his life. How did she do that? She was from a family that was not well off... at the time when Ashley stood up in her family to make a difference, they didn't have many of the conveniences that some of us today consider must haves. But Ashley convinced her family that it was better for them to share one telephone and take the extra money they would have used on another line to sponsor a child in a far off land... in the Dominican Republic... his name was Tony, and because of the family's support, less than $50 a month, the young man was taken out of hopelessness and poverty and was truly given a new life.

Ashley's God inspired willingness to step out from the "herd" to do something truly made a difference.  Take some time tonight to pray and ask God how He would have you step out in following our Lord.

The following, written in 1950 by Erich Fromm, was read today in my Psychology and the Church class today.  Can you see how this applies to Ashley's life?  She was not simply a "herd animal," moving along with the crowd.  Can you see how it applies to yours?  Certainly being "rational" is not all that is necessary, but with God in control, our reason can be transformed into a powerful gift of the Lord.
    Man is by nature a herd animal. His actions are determined by an instinctive impulse to follow the leader and to have close contact with the other animals around him. Inasmuch as we are sheep, there is no greater threat to our existence than to lose this contact with the herd and to be isolated. Right and wrong, true and false are determined by the herd. But we are not only sheep. We are also human; we are endowed with the awareness of ourselves, endowed with reason which by by its very nature is independent of the herd. Our actions can be determined by the results of our thinking regardless of whether or not the truth is shared by others.
    The split between our sheep nature and our human nature is the basis for two kinds of orientations: the orientation by proximity to the herd and the orientation by reason. Rationalization is a compromise between our sheep nature and our human capacity to think. The latter forces us to make believe that everything we do can stand the test of reason, and that is why we tend to make it appear that our irrational opinions and decisions are reasonable. But inasmuch as we are sheep, reason is not our real guide; we are guided by an entirely different principle, that of herd allegiance.
    The ambiguity of thinking, the dichotomy between reason and a rationalizing intellect, is the expression of a basic dichotomy in man, the coextensive need for bondage and freedom. The unfolding and full emergence of reason is dependent on the attainment of full freedom and independence. Until this is accomplished man will tend to accept for truth that which the majority of his group want to be true; his judgment is determined by need for contact with the herd and by fear of being isolated from it. A few individuals can stand this isolation and say the truth in spite of the danger of losing touch. They are true heroes of the human race but for whom we should still be living in caves. Yet for the vast majority of men who are not heroes the development of reason depends on the emergence of a social order in which each individual is fully respected and not made a tool by the state or by any other group, a social order in which he need not be afraid to criticize and in which the pursuit of truth does not isolate man from his brothers...

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