Code 8: ‘I will treat all men and women as brothers and sisters.’
For the first time in my life I visited GQ Magazines website. Either this is because I am not masculine enough or not upmarket enough. GQ is the more respectable of the mens magazines. I visited it for research purposes. The only mens magazine I read with any regularity (although even that is sporadic) is Sorted Magazine. Sorted and GQ are poles apart. The website was interesting, the top article was an attack on Ed Miliband and focussed too often on his appearance, his awkwardness or his voice. These things make him less qualified as a leader than the alternatives. In the middle of the homepage was a scrolling bar of famous women in underwear or bikinis. This bore the title ‘GQ Girls’, adding some modicum of ownership to the bodies of these women. Then just beneath that an article celebrating the plunging neckline of an actress I had never heard of. Deeper into the website were articles on how to get ahead of your peers. How to exploit systems and how to chat up women. All of this surrounded by adverts for trinkets of consumerism that the modern man must hang on his wrist or wear on his body to make the grade. It was a real eye opener.
I then visited Facebook, as that is how we have been programmed to behave; activity, social network, rinse and repeat. Three Facebook pages dominated my timeline, Lad Bible, Twat Bible and Sports Bible. The links were shared for fun but ranged from a man taking advantage of a girl who had sent a sexy photo to the wrong number by asking for more shots, through ‘look at this disgusting homeless person’, to an hilarious clip of a ball bouncing off the crossbar into a goalkeeper’s face. These ‘Bibles’ were GQ in fast food form, they were the Mcdonald’s to GQ’s Michelin Star.
There is something within a culture that raises individualism to the level of an idol that is creating this kind of material. People become competitors or commodities. We must crush our opponents in order to make our own path smooth and clear. Along the journey we can consume images of the bodies of men and women in whatever quantities we wish until we have detached body parts from personalities. The most popular hashtag on twitter as I type this regards Kim Kardashian’s bum. Not Kim Kardashian; merely her bum. Whilst she is free to share her body in however way she wishes there is something deeply discomforting about a culture that makes an individual’s bum their top talking point for the day. I don’t think these things are the problem but they are symptoms of a problem that leads to human competition and consumption. We are far from what we are supposed to be.
From the beginning of Genesis the Bible speaks of humanity as a family unit with the role of subduing and working the planet. When the world has fallen into chaos and brokenness the solution is a man and his family on an ark. When God calls Abraham to begin the rescue story that culminates in Jesus he calls him to start a family from which great nations will grow, and this family-nation will bring blessing to the whole planet. Something about being brothers and sisters, bound by familial love and honour brings hope, wholeness and transformation to the planet.
For if we view our colleague as our brother or sister they are no longer our competitor to be defeated. When we see them as carriers of the same transformation we are called to carry they can no longer be our enemy to be beaten but can only be our comrade fellow worker to be supported. If a man or woman is our brother and sister made to bring joy and hope to those around them then how can we treat them as a body detached from it’s personality? A quantum of titillation to our sex drive, enjoyed for a second and then disposed of.
The further we travel away from honouring, respecting and serving one another, then the more we become competitors or consumables. May we be people who make effort to see success for our colleagues and who celebrate their victories. May we put envy to death and see success of another as good for the whole. May we seek to know who people are above knowing what they can give us. May we seek to know a persons mind and what they are carrying for the world rather than what they look like naked or what given the opportunity we would ‘do to them.’
The end results of this drawing together as family will be much happier and healthier workplaces, homes and towns.