Monday, May 4, 2009

Finding the good in stuff

I have been around a lot of stuff lately. A lot of different people, communities, opinions, political positions, etc. I think there is one big thread that runs through it all, critique.

Now, know this: I am torn or on the fence about what I am going to write in this next paragraph.

I am not sure that this critique thing is good. You sit with a republican and mention the O word, and a storm erupts, or mention taxes, whoa! Granted there is a ton of logic and inherent good in all the things you would hear in those conversations. But here is what I don't like and I think I am going to resolve myself to try and not do. The conversations (name them religion, that guy with the purple shirt, the war in Iraq, real estate, whatever) inevitably take on an attacker stance. The other side of the opinion is wrong and not only wrong, but HORRIBLE and HOW COULD ANY ONE OTHER THAN AN IDIOT THINK THIS WAY!!!!!

I was watching the movie "American Beauty" the other day with my wife. There is a scene where the neighbor boy is showing a home movie to the daughter of the main characters. He calls this 15 minutes of movie the most beautiful thing he has ever filmed. It's 15 minutes of a plastic grocery store bag caught in the wind. The bag just dances. (please watch this movie again, its horrible and incredible)

Now what I love about this really depressing movie is exactly my point. There is all this negative awful stuff that happens in the movie and then this. This speech about beauty in the world. This boy lives in an abusive home, sells weed for a living. And he looks for beauty in every situation, and his hearts aches with fullness.

I started writing this post out of frustration with people being so apt to find bad things and then this movie weaseled its way back into my life changing/adding to this strain.

How much better would this place be if we all looked for the good in things? How much more rich, thoughtful would things be? I want a rich world. I want a world with rich food and rich relationships. I want a world ripe with giving and laughing. I want a world with lowered walls in order that deeper love happens. I want to be infectious.

I am slowly becoming resolved to be this person in my world. To point out the good instead of try to magnify the bad in those around me. To bring out and be thankful for all the things that are good in my world. In the worlds of my coworkers, my family, my neighbors, my best friends. I hope you do to. You Christians out there should most definitely do this as well. We all should be agents for beauty in this place.


Jennifer said...

I'm with you on this. Like you, I have committed myself to finding the good and beauty in our world . . . or at least recognizing the bad and do what I can to change it.

My question is why are we so predisposed to find the negative first and why is it so hard, such a struggle, to find the good and beauty that is all around us? Is it cultural or is it human nature?

Caris Power said...

Love this post Matt. I love that movie too and I thought myself so strange for it but it was the undercurrent of finding beauty and fullness midst all the crap of life that really wormed its way into my psyche as I watched it. It was both tragic and raw and real. I loved that I read this after Todd's message on Sunday. Thinking more and more about criticalness. Thanks for the thoughts!

Matt McKenzie said...

Jenn asked why we are predisposed to be negative...hmmm...

My answer is that evil breeds evil. Often we just aren't around totally good stuff, and it seems our fabric leans more towards destruction, rather than creation. BUT, if (like when I hang out with you jenn) you are around people intent on creating good, it breeds goodness. Its just maybe harder work, or less natural, yet so much more satisfying.

BF said...

I don't think our "fabric" leans one way or the other, toward good or toward bad, creation or destruction. We are merely here, growing and dying at differing rates. Like all animals, we act on our observations of members of our species, gravitating toward similarities and eradicating differences in order to survive longer.
I see no evidence that humans are predisposed to “find the negative,” or even do it more than “finding the positive.” The issue is that people understandably don’t like conflict. My guess is that you disprove of how people act, not how they think. Therefore, the human solution is a question of when NOT to act on their ideas.
The danger here, IMO, is to start categorizing humans into negative or positive things. As American Beauty implies, one man's trash is another man's beauty--a very relativistic look at the world. We shouldn't take our worldviews for granted; we should look for beauty in unexpected, even negative places, because that is where we learn about ourselves. To every thought, there is a season!