unbundle their channels has won them her wholehearted approval on that point.
This move is even drawing cheers from media outlets south of the
boarder. Apparently, the right of consumers to customize their cable
package is unifying force in our divided times—a common interest we must
assert (my favorite channels) against a common enemy who would deny us
that interest (the cable company).
Because the thing no one in our society can tolerate is the sense of
being constrained. We are a culture that believes in order to be free,
the individual ought keep open as many options as possible. We apply the
have-it-your-way principle from decisions as small as hamburger
toppings up to those as life-altering as careers.
Our commitment to non-commitment also has it's downside. It comes in
those aspects of life where loyalty and time are required to develop a
satisfying experience. I observe this primarily in the area of
relationships, where becoming deeply connected requires a choice to
eliminate other options and invest emotionally in another.
Of course, other people have their own needs and desires, and will
likely end up failing in some way to meet our expectations for the
relationship. So we keep our options open.
This is why our
society is understood by outside observers as one in which people are
quick to declare a friendship exists and able dispose of the
relationship just as fast. This is why, when our spouses hurt us, we
feel free to turn away from them in divorce, adultery, or that silent
killer of marriages, the parallel lives accommodation wherein couples
share a house but not a life.
This is why religion has become spirituality, because religion makes
demands of us. Instead, drawing on multiple traditions one may invent a
customized god who is compatible with ones goals and desires.
Recognizing a God who is independent of me constitutes the ultimate
There is another highly regarded aspect of life that requires a similar level of
dedication to relationships: athletics. One must be loyal to an athletic
pursuit, put in the time, and deny other options in order to succeed.
Athletics teaches us that the things in life that are most rewarding are
often hard and difficult. Just as one must be able to endure a
healthy level of physical pain and suffering to have athletic
fulfillment, one must also be able to endure a healthy level of
emotional pain and suffering to have relational fulfillment.
In a society that encourages us to move through life, using and
discarding people as it suits us, it takes a brave soul to stand for
loyalty and commitment. Don't think you can do it alone. Make the choice
to commit to a God, a spouse, and friends who will support you in ways
that develop a relationally fulfilling life.
This article was originally submitted for the Clergy Comments column of the Fort McMurray Today (October 25, 2013).