This is the first installment of a two part series entitled ‘The Pit‘ by Chris Watkins. Part 2 will be posted on February 9, 2014.
“Then they took him and cast him into a pit.” Genesis 37:24
It seems odd to me that one of the greatest characters in the Bible began his journey to significance by being thrown into a pit. Rationale and human reasoning have produced a myriad of trite sayings intended to help us relate to Joseph’s struggle and in turn assuage our own “pit” experiences. We memorize bits of wisdom such as “That which does not kill us only makes us stronger”, giving us a little hope and convincing us to press on. A good question to ponder is whether this experience is a therapeutic coping mechanism or an avenue to contentment. Is the point simply to survive our experience on the big, blue planet or is there a nobler purpose in the flow of this life?
If the answer is survival, then, by the grace of God, we have access to dozens of reality TV shows that should be able to fill our empty chasms of doubt with wisdom gleaned from the sages of our day. A vast array of characters are supplied to appeal to every individuals desire. One only needs control of the remote and dexterity of hand to navigate the waters of television. The answers to all of our questions must surely lie within this treasure chest, since the ratings suggest that millions of people tune in each week. The logical conclusion is that our culture is being shaped by these projections of “reality” instead of a healthy appreciation for the historical record. Instead of contributing to the welfare of the people, these media monoliths are apparently more interested in creating wealth for themselves while attempting to reshape the worldview of today’s society away from the discipline of responsible, creative thought.
The visible results suggest that our culture has entered into an unstable state of epic proportions. The desire to live out one’s life vicariously through a TV or motion picture character has produced a generation that finds it difficult to accept intentional design thus diminishing the need to pursue the purpose for which we exist. Rather than simply enjoying the show, the viewer tends to become entrapped. Not so much by the actions of the actors, but by the motivation in the characters to not only survive, but to ultimately find true happiness. As the viewer is drawn to identify with the carefully constructed scenarios, the inclination to identify with and cheer for the wrong intensifies.
Individuals have suffered identity crises for generations, but now it appears that our society as a whole is searching for meaning and purpose more so than ever before. It has become obvious that in our quest for survival we have obscured the ideas that we have been placed here with purposeful design and that difficulty is not an enemy, but a friend. A friend who will aid us in our own journey toward significance.
The idea of survival suggests that one must escape the pit in order to continue playing the game. The failure to negotiate the obstacle prompts the “game over” icon to appear, quelling any hope of victory. Not only are we motivated by the desire to win, but also by the fear of failing. As fear and adrenaline increase, the prisoner is inclined to find a way out. Climb the wall, dig out steps, jump higher or even collaborate with a fellow inmate. As resources are exhausted, we are encouraged to look even deeper within ourselves to find and unpack the survival kit that promises hope. Always within. Never without. Never from above. That would be perceived as weakness, depending upon a crutch. After all, when I escape this pit, the next challenge could be more difficult. Possibly even containing a harsher opponent. The failure to depend solely upon self could be a disastrous virus, infecting the host and ensuring defeat later on.