Every day there are decisions to made, things to be done, and people to connect with. In each of these arenas there lies a choice to engage the people and activities in front of us in one of two ways: We can live in our D.N.A ingrained humanity, the God-given qualities that make us human, and do what we feel is most natural to us; life becomes a sequence of reactions as we seek greater pursuits of joy and happiness. Our second option brings us to embarking on a journey of external dictation where the laws of righteousness lead us down a path of greater efficiency, refinement, and brilliant results, whatever that may be.
You may be thinking, “There is no way I live either completely by knee jerk reaction or by, essentially, what is right”. But I think that’s where we are as millenials. Granted I think living out the values we find most precious in a healthy, non-slave driving way is also apart of growing up, but I digress.
As millenials we have a basic idea of right and wrong; we have general principles that guide us in our careers and personal lives. As one can imagine it can become increasingly difficult to navigate everyday situations where a number of results can occur given multiple courses of action. Do we choose to do the mechanical, “right” course of action or do we opt to throw everything to the fan, not care, and do what we want? It may not be as black and white as I’m conveying, but there are certainly a fair amount of people that reside on both of these camps without much regard for the other side.
As you and I delve into this conversation it’s imperative we discuss why drinking the Kool-Aid of either the camp of humanity or righteousness becomes unsustainable and, frankly, impossible to do. The first of which we’ll address is living our lives by external dictation of doing what is right. In a perfect world you and I would always do what is right and socially acceptable. But our reality points to an imperfect world in which you and I face helpful, yet inhibitive emotions, mental breakdowns, and evil individuals who are also broken, but inflict pain upon our lives. This imperfect reality leads us to a massive amount of uncontrollable variables that often drive us off the path we’d ideally want to follow 100% of the time. Whether it’s a toxic relationship, drug use, or existential crises, we become helpless in our pursuit of perfectly performing doing what is right.
For the rest of us who try to do what is right, even a quarter of the time we interact with people, the external dictation of the laws of righteousness still take their toll on our psyche. This is more likely what you and I undergo on a daily basis. Most of the time you and I feel comfortable in our skin and are able to navigate most situations with an organic proclivity, but certainly face situations where the circumstances call for a very specific response from our end. It may be a toxic coworker, terrible friend, or a less than preferable social event. Admittedly it is exhausting to approach these specific circumstances and ponder the ways in which we should “do what is right”.
For many of us living a life driven by laws of righteousness is an enormous burden so our natural reaction becomes an effort to throw off every pretentious social norm, cue, and standard and live our lives the way we feel or think. If this new method of living somehow falls into line with everyone else, while still on our terms, we look in the mirror satisfied with the person we see.
My challenge to those of us who feel this way is to take one more look in the mirror. As young millenials it is enormously burdensome to know what the right thing to do in one situation, while altogether wanting to do the exact opposite of what our circumstances are calling us to do. In our work lives, for instance, we often face people we don’t enjoy working with. The ways in which we interact with these certain folk are, at best, a stinging pain in our side and, at worst, an excruciating experience. You and I both know the right thing to do is to engage this person in a professional manner and carry on with our business, despite what our mental and emotional propensity might lead us towards. However, most of the time we “put up” with the unpleasant coworker in a less than professional manner because we give into our humanity and disregard for what is right. As a result the less than professional interaction then creates uncomfortable tension amongst everybody in the office and things slowly digress from there.
As you and I throw the laws of righteousness out and begin to live on the far spectrum of the celebration of our humanity we often lose sight of the path we first sought out to walk upon. We often become too focused on the avoidance of any external dictation and live solely on the internal components of our humanity-our emotions and self-determinations. This path also leads us down a behavioral consistency of unsustainability and unfulfillment.
Granted our goal was to point out the infeasibility of living too far on either of the two spectrums of humanity or righteousness. Should we opt to live fully by what is right we will most likely burn out in frustration, anger, and confusion either at why the rest of the world isn’t following suit; in this case the event more likely to occur is that we will personally burn out in an effort to maintain such an insurmountable goal. If we opt to live fully in our humanity we find ourselves on a steady path towards destruction, both of ourselves and the people around us. The decay of unsustainable pleasure leaves us without a healthy external compass and we find ourselves lost and tossed back and forth in a sea of utter confusion and anger.
Truth be told we will never have the perfect environment in which we are always thriving and being our authentic selves. There are uncontrollable variables in this life that lead us to do some pretty crazy stuff and do some pretty terrible things. If we are ready to accept this fact and also acknowledge the importance of the balance of living with both a bit of external dictation from righteousness as well as internal navigation from our humanity, then we can move towards a third alternative that is sustainable, brilliant, and life giving. This third alternative brings us to a balance of the aforementioned spectrums of living. It is actually within the context of our own humanity, the qualities that make us most human, we can choose our own expression of doing the right thing. As we live out in the way in which we were created complete with our personality and leanings we can be encouraged to allow our humanity to fit within the realm of doing what’s right; doing so keeps us from blindly following rules at risk of becoming overly mechanical and dehumanized. What this workaround also does for us is that it allows us to still be fully ourselves while also being effective and efficient in what we do whether it’s getting work done or navigating social situations.
Navigating what life throws at us can often be difficult; there is no shortage of difficult moments, anxious exchanges, and trying circumstances. Some of us choose to live life fully by the book and some of us choose to throw it all to the wind. I find, however, there to be much beauty and resolution by living somewhere in the middle of these two approaches. It’s in our God-given humanity we can find the means to do the right thing and ultimately be lead in greater efficiency and effectiveness in our daily lives.