“It’s Not about You” is the title of a recent New York Times opinion piece by David Brooks. In it he reflected upon the journey through life of recent college graduates.
I was attracted to Brooks’ words because they angled distinctively in a Christian direction. He noted that so many recent college graduates have been ill-prepared – by their elders – for the journey ahead, being told to seek to find themselves when they and the world need them to lose themselves.
“Worst of all, they are sent off into this world with the whole baby-boomer theology ringing in their ears. If you sample some of the commencement addresses being broadcast on C-Span these days, you see that many graduates are told to:
Follow your passion, chart your own course, march to the beat of your own drummer, follow your dreams and find yourself.
“This is the litany of self-expressive individualism which is still the dominant note in American culture. But, of course, this mantra misleads on nearly every front. College grads are often sent out into the world amid rapturous talk of limitless possibilities. But this talk is of no help in the central business of adulthood, finding serious things to tie yourself down to.
“The successful young adult is beginning to make sacred commitments – to a spouse, a community, a calling – yet mostly hears about freedom and autonomy.”
Brooks concluded with:
“Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a by-product of how people engage their tasks – it can’t be pursued directly.
“Most of us are egotistical and most are self-concerned most of the time, but it’s nonetheless true that life comes to a point only in those moments when the self dissolves into some task. The purpose of life is not to find yourself – it’s to lose yourself.”
That’s a definite echo of Mark 8:35, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”
-- the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, Georgia