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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Conventions v. Convictions


Its time for a history lesson!

Have you ever heard anyone say, “don’t drink the kool-aid”? Or has anyone disrespectfully referred to you as a “kool-aid drinker”? Perhaps you have heard these phrases and you have thought to yourself…”Ya, I really do like kool-aid. Especially when it came in little squeeze-it bottles! What’s the big deal?”

Well the phrase “don’t drink the kool-aid” is a reference to the Jonestown Massacre. In 1978. Jim Jones, a cult leader convinced those in his cult to commit suicide by drinking grape kool-aid mixed with potassium cyanide. The expression is thus a caution as you invest in a group of people, organization, etc. The expression is more or less saying, be careful what you buy into, and don’t trust blindly.

A professor of mine referenced this kool-aid drinking in a discussion of conventions (our behaviors, actions, etc) and their relatedness (or lack their of) to our convictions.

So often we move form city to city, church to church, friend to friend and we never form our own convictions. We adopt the conventions of others, which are (one can assume) based on their convictions. The importance of uncovering and evaluating our convictions is then essential. Without naming our own convictions we will continue to have conventions based on others convictions and will move through life trading conventions for conventions.

But naming our convictions is more difficult that it appears.

Why is it so difficult for us to name our convictions? Why do we embrace the conventions of others without thinking through their interplay with our convictions? Why do we struggle to name who we are and what we are passionate about?

Because it is easier to duplicate. It is easier to copy. It is easier to take the words of others and claim them as your own. It is easier to live by the quotes of the famous, than to speak our own words worth quoting. It requires less of us to copy the ways of others than to own our convictions. It allows us to hide behind our fear…the fear of ourselves, and become a vacuum of opinion and practice.

In addition, there are things from our story that strip us of our ability to be confident in our convictions. We question them because we have been indoctrinated into the ways of self-doubt. We have been taught that our gut is our enemy. We have heard it preached that our passions are sinful. We have been taught, through stories of abuse, neglect, and rejection that we are nothing more than one of many.

So we take on the actions of others. Significant or mundane, we trade our convictions for others conventions. We watch the TV show that our neighbor recommends (start Tivo-ing Tila Tequilla!). We listen to the music that our friends listen to (even though I cannot stand Band of Horses). We dress like those in our neighborhood (even though I don’t look good in plaid). We allow our parent’s passions to become our own. We plan careers based on the career projections of our sorority sisters. We permit our pastor’s theology to become our own.

We go from friend to friend, family to family, magazine to magazine, and church to church simply ingesting the opinions of others without critically contrasting them against our own convictions.

Yet, we have convictions. Don’t we? They are in there.

I know they are in there, and no matter how hard I try to ignore them or belittle their validity; I must continue the process of naming. The answers won’t be found on a personality test or in a self help book…but I wish they were. That would be easier.

They are in there. But we must take the time to unlearn years of borrowed convictions before we can name our own. Only when we live life out of personal conviction, rather than borrowed conventions, will we live the life God has called us to.

It is towards this that I strive.

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benjamin said...

Great words bro. I struggle in my constant living through the thoughts of others to avoid the ramifications of what it would mean to live into my own convictions. I would love to repeat the words of Bell, Carucci, etc. simply so that it never truly has to fall back on me.

I freaking love group think.

But it's also killing me.

Thanks again for your words! Keep pushing me. I need it.

Derrick Fudge said...

bro, great words. A very good reminder for me. I don't know what this "group think" ben fella is so afraid of, but I only found out what I believe after I gave up the desire to please everyone. Even then, it is very hard to listen to my emotions to see what is really true to it. This is hard for me, and I like less than half the people I know. it must be almost impossible for someone like you that everyone loves

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