12.20.2006

As promised: Unique Uniformity*

*Barry has a way with alliterations and when I was discussing with him my tentative next blog topic, he neatly coined it "Unique Uniformity." So, I'm crediting him with the fancy title. :)

"Ooh look Mom! A Bratz doll just like all my friends have. Please can I have it? Pleeease?"
"Hey, that sweater looks great; it's so you. Where'd you get it?" "Yeah, I wanted something unique. I got it at AE on sale for only $45!"

A picture of George and Laura Bush in front of their Christmas tree with the infamous red dress
(CBS) Every woman who's ever attended a formal party has had the same concern: What if someone else shows up in the same dress?
As CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras reports, that's exactly what happened to first lady Laura Bush at Sunday's Kennedy Center Honors, always one of Washington's biggest nights for stars, and glamorous fashion.
With guests in the spotlight at the exclusive White House receptions that go with the ceremony, the designer gowns are always scrutinized.
And on Sunday, four women at the reception wore the exact same $8,500 Oscar de la Renta dress, Mrs. Bush among them.

As you can probably tell by now, the concept of everybody wanting to be different in the same way, or the same in different ways is what I would like to focus on this time. Why is it, that when presented with a two alternatives, one of which is popular and sort of generic but still perfectly usable, and another which is not very utilitarian but it's different (and probably more expensive), we frequently choose the latter? Why is it that society is always pursuing fashion but never quite getting there; that whatever is hot today is not tomorrow?

A Hummer and a Prius To climb the mountain via a different route, explain this to me. Why is there an almost infinite variety of automobiles, but we're satisfied with only four or five different kinds of web browsers? They all do basically the same thing, so why don't we just pick the best four or five options and get rid of all the rest? Think of the money that would be saved!

One very obvious difference between web browsers and cars is that other people can see what kind of car you're driving. Is that it? Does our desire to be different stem from our desire to be noticed and approved of by others? I know most people say that they chose their specific 'whatever' because they like 'it', but how much of our approval of 'it' is shaped by society's approval?

Now let me attempt to weave this thread in with my original idea. The toys and clothes and cars that are in style are fashionable because it's what everybody else likes, or if you're lucky, what everybody else is just starting to like. But I think God's original intent was that each person showcase their unique personality just for Him, without regard to what others thought. If (1) God is the ultimate Personality and the original Creator and (2) humans were created in His image, then we are expressly creative and singularly individual beings.


mangos
Satan realized that if humans went about life without regard for anyone's approval, as we looked at all the beautiful expressions of individual personalities, we would see the imprint of the Divine shining through. So of course he had to invent a substitute. "We can't have you looking to God for approval!" he sneers. "Here, I give you human gods. Wear what they wear, buy what they buy, worry about what they think." And so as we started looking downward and inward instead of upward, we lost our sense of what was truly fashionable and unique.

Excelsior

10 comments:

  1. I have wondered on this same subject myself.

    I liked the first part about the First Lady's dress. It made me laugh.

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  2. People are weird. We all want to fit in, yet we strive to be different. I think the real problem is that we are insecure. We don't have the self confidence to hack it on our own, but we want everyone else to notice us and think we are cool.
    Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we hide our God given personalities behind the fig leaves of cars and clothing.
    Satan is hard at work. No doubt about it. But God is trump, and soon we'll be enjoying heaven and the new earth.

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  3. I like your idea of individual personalities showing the signature or "imprint" of God. It's a neat thought.
    But I think the problem goes deeper than just no longer looking upward. I think it reflects how weak our relationships with God have gotten.
    Who do people look to for approval? People who are important to them. Children look to their parents for approval. As we get older, we look to our friends for approval. The people that we have strong ties to, those who are close to us and who we admire.
    Sadly, old habits die hard; this problem has been around quite a while and has only grown with time. But I think one way to start changing this is to strenghten our ties to God. Build a strong relationship with God, and soon he'll be the only one you care to "impress."

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  4. Man, if all I ever worried about was what God thought, I think soon I wouldn't be worrying! I think that is something we all need to "worry about": what is God thinking of us right now? What is His plan for today? Am I really walking in step with Him?

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  5. My dad preached a great sermon called "what's really real". In it, he pointed out that the things that we spend most of our time worrying about have little relation to ultimate reality. If we truly follow covey's advice and "keep the end in mind" our concepts of self worth can become balanced.

    easy to say, hard to do...

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  6. hey, where's that new blog I saw you writing earlier? humph, you should post it.

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  7. Excellent explanation.

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  8. I don't have time to read it now, so I'll let you know what I think of it later. I was just looking at the pictures, and the prius and the woman in it look just like my mom! LOL :)

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  9. You have a point there, Joel. There is a desire to be one's own person by looking like everyone else, but I also believe that those people are the ones who are in the spotlight or wanting to be. But then you've got to take a look at the other side. One reason that there are so many different kinds of cars is because of taste. In the same way that some people aren't satisfied with just chocolate or vanilla yogurt and prefer the delectable mango sorbet or the mint chocolate chip :), different people are attracted to the shape or color of a certain kind of car. Attraction to clothing is similar. It all seems rather personal; it has a lot to do with the eyes and the mind, but for some, it also has to do with what everyone else is doing.

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  10. Well, taste has something to do with it, I agree, but I think that we've gone a little to far in our attempts so satisfy (satiate, if you will) our tastes. Americans especially have been indulged in our pursuit of personal whims that we've lost sight of the beauty of simplicity. I think we could all be quite happy with fewer choices if that's all we had.

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