Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)

Remember the time during the Cold War where the thousands of ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) from the two superpowers, the USSR and the USA, faced poised at one another, ready to be released at the press of a button to unleash complete total destruction on both countries? The thinking behind this fearsome strategy is MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). The fact that your enemies can destroy your country at the same time you destroy theirs was meant to help the leaders not to be too hasty in their decision making at the threat of war.

In our society today, there is also a MAD strategy in play. Only the proponents are ourselves and other people in our society. This play is very destructive. It is more dangerous in that it is acting on our subconscious, at a level where we are all unaware that we are involved in the destruction. And more surprising is that it is socially acceptable. In fact society praises its outworking. I am talking about our achievement orientated lifestyles.

What is wrong with being achievement orientated? Achievement by itself is good. All the comforts and security of our society is created by people achieving what they set out to do. It is the cost of achievement that is the problem. Many achievements are obtained at the price of broken relationships, dysfunctional families, exploitation of fellow human beings and self abuse. How does this situation come about?

We are created in God’s image. Human beings are created for unconditional love. Unfortunately, early in our childhood, we are taught that love is conditional. We are given love if we do something; be nice to our siblings, being obedient, be polite. Love is withheld if we misbehave. So we learn young to play the game, the game of gaining conditional love. We learn early that achievement always win conditional love. Yet, our souls long for unconditional love. Almost all of us can recall the longing for this love. Because we cannot get this unconditional love from our loved ones, we learn to repress it.

Repression does not make the longings go away but converts it to aggression, irritability and anger. This repression is self destructive. Many of us are angry most of the time. Some of us develop ulcers, hypertension and depression. This repression also causes us to be cruel to other people, and to want to hurt them. As these impulses are subconscious, we often do it without realizing it. That is why we always hurt the ones we love.

While we repress our need for unconditional love, we continue to pursue our need for love, even conditional love, by achieving things. Unfortunately we soon discovered that earned love is not fulfilling. With all our achievement, we feel empty inside. So we anaesthetize ourselves with entertainment, sex, trophies or even more achievements. We discovered the maxim, “he won dies with the most toys win”, wins nothing. So it become a destructive vicious cycle, this achievement orientated lifestyle.

The only way for us to get out of this vicious cycle is to receive unconditional love. God is the only Person who can give unconditional love. Receiving the unconditional love is the first part of the journey. We next need to break the subconscious thought patterns that have developed in our minds.

We can break these destructive thought patterns by worship. In worship, (1) confession brings to our conscious mind the destructive thought patterns, (2) repentance helps us to renounce it, and (3) proclamation and prayer helps to celebrate and embrace the healing unconditional love brings to our lives. When we establish a pattern of worship in a community of faith, this repeated pattern helps us to break out of the vicious cycle of the achievement orientated lifestyle.

It is only when we receive unconditional love and do not have to repress our need of it that we achieve shalom; the peace with God, with man and with all creation. Hence the need to continue to worship regularly with a community of faith. Worship is the antidote to prevent the mutual assured destruction of our souls.

Soli deo gloria

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