*WARNING* The beginning of this post feeds my inner geek. Stick with me. There’s meaning behind my nerd story.
In the increasingly misnamed 5 book trilogy, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy” there’s a device that exacts the greatest possible punishment on those convicted of the most horrific crimes. Typically, this punishment is for war criminals, mass murderers, and the occasional politician. Water-boarding and even Capital Punishment are arguably more humane than subjecting the guilty to this punishment. It’s called the Total Perspective Vortex.
Though the technology is impressive the concept is simple. They place the person punished inside the Total Perspective Vortex. The device shows them their significance in relationship to every other living organism that has ever existed in all space and time. Basically, they’re shown how insignificantly small they are in comparison to everyone and everything in the universe.
The effect on the person punished is a form of mental collapse initiated by severe depression leading to total mental and emotional breakdown as the subject realizes how, in the grand scheme of things, their life simply doesn’t matter.
I don’t know what’s more interesting, that we don’t really need a fancy device like the Total Perspective Vortex to feel insignificant or that, regardless of knowing how small we really are, people still strut around in bloated self-importance.
When I watch people – or even take an honest look at myself – there are moments when I am overwhelmed by how insignificant I truly am. I’ve never invented anything. My thoughts aren’t especially profound. My bank account doesn’t show that I have any massively marketable skills. When I enter a room people are much more likely to remember the friend I’m with than me.
I have other less humble moments too. I’ll stand awestruck staring in a mirror dazed by my dizzying intellect and obviously under-appreciated coolness. I win every argument – in my head. I’ve lost a lot of weight and been exercising. I have abs now. More of a two pack than six but it’s progress. I’ve risen through the ranks in my career. I’m a legend in my own mind.
Arrogant insignificance, an ever-changing state of mind that affects how we relate to everyone around us. Put us in the right room with the right people. We’re commanding, convincing, confident and self-assured. Change the circumstance or the people and we become self-conscious, insecure buffoons.
How we see things, how we see ourselves and others, matters. We must overcome our arrogant insignificance. If perspective is our point of view then we need to figure out exactly which perspective shows us the truth of each moment.
From our perspective, that view is distorted. It will lean toward one extreme or another. Like a fish-eyed lens or a carnival mirror, we’ll see a warped reality that magnifies some characteristics while minimizing others. How do we see rightly?
- Understand your own point of view. Your history, experience and knowledge have gotten you where you are today. Know what you know and apply it well.
- Take time to understand other points of view. I’ve heard it said, surround yourself with smart people. They see things you don’t. Once you’ve done that surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.
- And the most important of all – get to know how God sees things. His Word is full of His thoughts on life, the universe, and everything. He uses people and circumstances to shape who we are. He’s given us His Word to help us understand His creation. You will know God’s thoughts, His will, His ways when you get to know God’s Word.
Like using a telescope to study the universe, a microscope to study biology and a camera to capture different points of view, we can right size our ego.
Arrogance is inappropriate.
Insignificance is inaccurate.
You’re not the center of the universe, but you matter to God, to people – and to me. See rightly and overcome your arrogant insignificance.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7