The Isolation of the Self Righteous in Ivory Towers

The Isolation of the Self Righteous in Ivory Towers July 10, 2014

I’ve never been one to open up about my journey of faith.  Notwithstanding the two and a half decades (give or take a few tough years) it would take to recount the lifelong  tale, but I’ve always felt that my faith, like so many things in my life was my personal choice – I didn’t feel obligated to kiss and tell about those intimate details of my relationship with God.

Navigating the labyrinth of my life and my faith has always been very much like I’m flying on wings fashioned of feathers and wax.  Daedalus told his son Icarus, “Follow my path.  Do not fly too near the sea, as the water will dampen the feathers, nor too near the sun as the heat will melt the wax and you will fall.”  I’ve never been a person to do things in half measures.  All or nothing, work hard, play hard, live-laugh-love-and-all-that-cliché-jazz.

After a pretty dark and admittedly disturbing adolescence, I found stability in my faith that until that point had only been an abstract concept.  So I committed to it, in the most emphatic way I possibly could.  At seventeen years old, I opted to be baptized in the Mohican River that ran behind my hometown.  It was March.  It was freezing.  There was still snow on the ground, and ice floating in the water just off the sandbar by the old dam.  But I was ready, it was time, and why the heck not?  The river had been there as long as I could remember, and to me was a symbol of both permanence and change in my young life.  Of course, I was elated afterwards and couldn’t wait to share this with everyone.

Imagine my surprise when I was met with critical stares and tsking.  “Why couldn’t you just do it in the church like a normal person?”  To which the painfully-shy seventeen year old me bit my tongue, head down, properly cowed all the while thinking to myself,  ‘Last time I checked, our savior was also baptized in a river, but thanks for making me feel bad about a turning point in my life you judgmental jerk!’  This was probably the first time I can recall someone looking down at me from their ivory tower.  It was also the first time I recall ever climbing up the stairs into my own self-righteous tower, even if not openly.

Lately, I’ve seen and unfortunately taken part in unfair judgment.  Holier-than-thou mud-slinging at its finest.  Oh the prideful humility of it all.  Are we all so naïve, motivated by our own self-righteousness?  So quick we’ve become to claim such a close relationship with the Lord, that we imprison and isolate ourselves in our pious ivory towers surrounded by a labyrinth of ideals and morals, rising above the heathens who know not what they say or do, we are above it all.  We doubt.  We judge.  We cast aspersions of character and are quick to assume that none among us share our thoughts or convictions and so we must condemn them for it.  Then claim we are but humble servants trying to lead them to fly the safe and middle path by showing them the error of their ways, right?

If a restaurant CEO says something we don’t agree with, we boycott the chain and implore others to do the same.  Because how dare anyone express a flawed thought.  Keep climbing those stairs, never minding to look down and see all those honest, hard-working people below whose wages we’ve impacted, because we’re on a holy mission and won’t be denied while making our point be known.  How’s the view up there as we spread our waxen wings?    What is our point anyway?  That we’re of such strong Christian moral fiber that anyone less must be laid to waste, with all the indignant fury that we can muster?  To whom are we trying to prove ourselves?  We elevate ourselves to fly straight at the sun fueled by our ideals and false superiority and we fall.

Ponder this, if even for a moment.  Stop and take a mental inventory of your own journey of faith.  I very much doubt any of us took the elevator to the top, no we all took the stairs.  One. Painful. Step. At. A. Time.  So quickly we can recall our journey.  Every struggle, every triumph. Every test and every failure laid bare before us.  As we’re busy pointing that finger of shame on others for not living up to our own ideals and convictions, three of our fingers are pointing back at us.  The blaming, the shaming, the assumptions and judgments.  All are reflections of ourselves.  Each time, our wings become saturated and we drown.

I have flown too close to the sun and fallen.  I have flown too close to the sea and drowned.  Time and again we all struggle.  While the story didn’t end well for Icarus, in the lesser light of the distant sun, dampened feathers will dry.  With a little pressure, wax can be softened and reshaped.  Wings born of wax and feathers can be remade time and again so long as we continue to make that leap and have faith that this time, this time we will follow the middle winds on the path that our Father has led us on, neither too close to the sun nor too close to the sea.

Christian.  Pagan.  Atheist.  Buddhist.  Agnostic.  Islamic.  Muslim – Labels with which we all identify to align ourselves with something greater, yet neglect the thing that unites us all, simply admitting we’re HUMAN.  Accepting our place in the world, our path that has been laid before us, our tiny voices still matter to those to whom we speak.  Better to speak softly, gently in loving compassion than to shout solitary judgment from the top of our towers.  But much like Icarus, we take flight and become giddy in the light of the sun, overwhelmed by our own ideals and fly too closely… and we fall into our own shortsightedness, rather than open ourselves to follow our flight path that has already been laid out for us.

And a little music to keep your thoughts rolling long after you’ve finished reading.  This is a band I’d never heard of before but a friend recommended after giving my first draft a perusal, and I felt the need to include it so that I could share it with all of you. Thanks for reading!  


Melody Evans is a Social Media Manager for a family of healthcare companies and a freelance book review blogger for Up All Night Novels.  When she’s not  forgoing sleep in the endless pursuit of literary satisfaction, she can often be found diligently glued to her keyboard, seeking new outlets to express her love of all things geek chic.

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