Are you The Borg or are you Human?

I have really been thinking a lot about the following, as I believe it is unfortunately ever so true today:

Culture no longer believes in progress, it believes in assimilation

When I say ‘progress’ I am defining it the same as American theologian and pastor Warren Wiersbe when referencing Paul’s words of ‘progress’ to his young disciple Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:15: “A pioneer advancing into new territory.”

Think what would happen if our culture today saw progress as a collective of unique individuals striving together to faithfully blaze humanitarian, scientific and social paths that have yet to be blazed – minus the politics, hierarchies and the innate human felt-need to rule.

But we can’t do that. Not in our culture. Not in our time. 

Our responsibility as an independent individual is no longer focused on our own actions in light of the whole, but rather focused on outside persuasion – assimilating everyone who is not like us to be exactly like us – whether scientific, political or theological.

We don’t even know what it means to define progress other than through the lense of who has the dominant mass; scientific (evolution vs. creation), political (who has the majority in the government) or theological (missionaries from any faith whose goal is conversion rather than faithful Kingdom establishment).

We’re not the freaking Borg.

We’re human. Complex. Independent yet eerily ever connected and inter-related.

A favorite saying of mine is: “Wisdom will be proven right by her actions.” If that is true today, having wisdom equals power through a mass of an exact, pre-determined right set of ideologies. To me, that is not wisdom. Wisdom, instead, must be proven by the life you live whether anyone ‘assimilates’ to your own way or not. How you react in the face of assimilative pressure shows more of your character and how much wisdom you have than any number of the masses giving in to you, your message or what mainstream culture (secular and religious) deems as the ‘only acceptable way to live.’

Are you trying to show how much wisdom you have by how many people assimilate to your side or how you progress through life despite others assimilation in either direction, around you?

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://conversationsonthefringe.com cschaffner

    Andy,

    Have you read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves To Death? He talks in the forward about the difference between Orwell’s fear of big brother and Huxley’s fear of being too satisfied.

    He leans towards us, as a people group, being satiated and that our lives have become trivial. He states that we should fear book burning parties to try and cotrol all the information but that no one would even want to read. Orwell feared that truth would be concealed from us while Huxley worries that truth would drown in a sea of irrelevance.

    It’s a good read if you have time.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      I just went to Amazon and put it on my list! Thanks! Can’t wait to read it…

  • http://leavingda99@blogspot.com Leneita

    I am with you!! We don’t know how to be pioneers anymore. Even in our need to be “sold out for Christ” we all look alike. I am not talking about standing on the truth. The truth is the truth. But, we want to just be placated. We want to drone on and just fit in. Then we don’t even realize that when we are trying to be different that we all are just “assimilating” into the culture around us. We want to find the formula and then fit into it. Then maybe pioneering will become easy. I TOTALLY get what you are saying. A true pioneer inspires others to follow through their passion and invitation to be a part of something bigger than what they can think of imagine. However, rather than trying to drag everyone to their way of thinking it comes in the form of an extended hand. Then you keep moving forward with the team that wants to be there. You don’t water down where you are going. You all are traveling together. It does mean sometimes you are chopping at the weeds in your path by yourself. Assimilation happens when we get hung up on what everyone else is doing. We get tired. We stop and we slow down. We decide it is better to just fit in. I have asked God before, if I could quit and just start fitting in. But you know what then I am no longer moving forward. I am moving across when I think it is forward. So- we need to stop strong arming people to be like us. We need to make the invitation and go regardless of who comes along. That is what the narrow road is all about. It is simple- but that does not mean it is easy. It is uncomfortable. Supremely uncomfortable to keep moving and to ask others to join us. But- needed.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      The narrow road indeed. I feel that so many love to talk about the narrow road, but when push comes to shove the chosen path is the wide open well treaded road that gets the most play. Then, those people start calling their road the narrow road because they still want that feeling of distinct living. Funny little game and circle we find ourselves in.

  • Seth

    Assimilation seems out of the question for me, at least personally. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to fit in and be like everyone else, and it’s been impossible all that time. My personal challenge has been to believe that it’s okay–and even preferable–to be different. It’s a rare moment when I can feel at home with myself in a world that scarcely understands me. But that’s what an ambassador is–at home in a foreign place.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Seth – Ambassador…I LOVE THAT!

  • Eugene

    Progress is an arrogant thing. The entire idea of progress is based on the notion that we know where we should go. On the other hand, assimilation is even worse. The fact that we don’t know where to go doesn’t mean that all directions will be equally fruitful.

    Now what should we do about it? Perhaps, it’s better to stay where you are – instead of being a blind guide.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Eugene – It’s strange to me that your suggestion is ‘to stay where you are’ when where our culture is right now doesn’t have, or hasn’t legalized anything you’re currently fighting for in Gay Rights. So it seems that you are suggesting the following:

      1. Keep culture the same as it is currently. This currently includes everything you feels is oppressive towards LGBT people.

      or

      2. Still fight for Gay Rights, etc; but then wouldn’t that also assume you know where you’re going if that is a version of cultural movement? So are you then saying that fighting for gay rights is a ‘bling guide’?

      Seems contradictory after everything you’ve posted over the last month?

      • Eugene

        Yeah, it actually sounds contradictory. :) But I wasn’t talking specifically about gay rights. Still, I am aware of the other side of this issue and willing to acknowledge the possibility of being wrong.

        I mean, wouldn’t it be nice – from my perspective – if organizations like NOM, the Mormons and the Catholic church at least left the gay marriage issue alone? But if they’re right, they’re doing the right thing, aren’t they? On the other hand, if there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality, the gay rights supporters are doing the right thing, and the other side is doing the wrong thing. What’s worse, people who refuse to take sides are condoning the wrong thing through inaction – regardless of who’s right!

        And, yes, “Wisdom will be proven right by her actions.” Now, what’s wiser, taking a 50% chance of doing the wrong thing or the 100% “chance” of condoning the wrong thing?

        I guess assimilation only makes sense when both sides are morally equivalent and aren’t mutually exclusive (e.g. Americans and Mexicans). But when it comes to religion and the matters of right and wrong, assimilation seems to be a bad thing. Jesus surely wouldn’t let the Pharisees assimilate him, and he “assimilated” only twelve apostles to his side (and I’m not sure if we can call it assimilation).

        Of course, the difference is that Jesus knew who was right, and we don’t. Still, I don’t know which situation is better:

        1) “I was there and did nothing”,
        2) “I was there, tried to do the right thing, but did the wrong thing”.

        Does it mean that people should stop fighting for gay rights and against anti-gay bigotry? No, I don’t think so. I certainly don’t think that they are “blind guides”. Still, they probably should think of the consequences of their actions. Just like the fight for women’s rights, their actions will change the world we’re living in.

  • http://www.jennyrain.com Jenny

    I have now read your post twice. Once last night, once this morning. It invaded my pre-coffee-brain this morning as I contemplated what you are saying about wisdom.

    There is a conversation I have to have today – a hard one – one where I want to walk the line of respecting authority (because I do believe God gives us authority structures), honoring leaders, and being true to the story God has called me into. Wisdom allows me to integrate those three areas successfully… now if I could just figure out what that looks like in real, every-day life :)

    Awesome post!

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Jenny – I hope your difficult conversation went as good as possible. Much love!

  • pm

    Is it hard to imagine ‘culture’ having a belief system? when individuals become moving targets (either passively or actively); as when policies and procedures re-inforce an ideology congruent with collective group-think outcomes; when the manipulation of mainstream awareness heralds yet another assault on both internal as well as interpersonal expectations of behavior.

    When we consider the Borg, at least the viewers all seem to know where they stand and how the Borg will ‘process’ your freedom, your own decision-making in light of their unrelenting pursuit of Borg-control over your existence; they would be overwhelmed if assimilated and fashioned into an aggregate tool as part of the greater-good. Perhaps the Borg illustration is a poynient portrayal of the captivity experienced when a societal wall of centralized and planned control that seems to exert itself and surrounds us in our endeavors.

    What level of control do we accept as a definition of future-tense ‘perfection’ that justifies our fitting-in yet excludes our individual voice to self-determine the walk of faith, hope and love? how have we continually allowed others to regulate our responsibility that it’s OK to conform according to the ‘acceptable’ lines of worldly self-absorption. The implacable opposition is best examined in our own self-speak about who we really are and the reality of our journey.

    With the Borg, we gain the highest level of connectivity (vs) the internal struggles against our prurient interests; with the Borg, we gain a really nifty self-modulating shield that blocks outsider energy-weapon attacks (vs) the oft-times hurtful vulnerabilities associated with truthful transparency; with the Borg, we gain virtual unlimited support and knowledge about the universe (vs) the survivor-mentality of sharing ourselves including the disappointments about God, the Church, our relatives and others.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      pm – I’m currently reading a book by Sigmund Freud (Civilization and it’s Discontents) that speaks exactly about what civilization (culture) deems as deciding on, and fighting for each of their (various sub-populations within the broader cultural mainstream) own future-tense state of perfection. I find that a fascinating concept, because it seems to me that so many groups of people out there are working off of, and thus fighting for, their own future-tense state of perfection. What to do about that other than 1) Call them out on that structural falicy; or 2) Fight back; I am not sure yet. Interesting points…


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