Life-Love 51: Finding beauty in order

We live in a society that shuns the concept of order and orderly living. We run away from commitment. We shy away from authority, cringing sarcastically – sometimes cynically – at the idea of morality or self-discipline. We shun tradition and belief. We are told to live every day as if it were our last. This idea used to be a principle of order and virtuous behaviour. You lived everyday as if it was your last because you wanted to find paradise in the afterlife. In modern times, that idea has been turned and transformed into a justification for selfishness and self-gratification. Rather than feeling an urgency to “be virtuous” or to “seek the good”, we are told “gratify yourself while you can”. Death is seen as a final moment, a full-stop to party, rather than a portal to existence on another plane. A life of self-gratification quickly turns into a life of selfishness, however. Funny enough, selfishness is empty and not very gratifying at all. A world where everyone seeks to self-gratify is also a world of complete individuals, and it’s hard to trust your neighbours when you can’t identify any real principle that guides their behaviour other than “what is my benefit? how can I be gratified?” A world of disorderly self-gratification can be a lonely place.

There is a beauty to order – it gives shapes and predictability to experience. It means that parts of your life are familiar through tradition. The ways you learned through observing others as a kid, the ways men and women interact peacefully and respectfully, the way to be a son or a daughter, the way to understand faith or belief. Order provides a familiarity with the practice of living which means you don’t have to discover all the secrets of human experience yourself. It is a distillation of human experience, mostly passed on through the loving examination of the past by parents and grandparents, historians and the more thoughtful politicians. Order means you don’t have to rediscover the wheel. Having that sense of familiarity means that you work at mastering the art of living, the art of human relationships. It means that you are released from the prison of endless self-examination, self-centeredness. It means that you can focus on others in a deep community way, rather than the brittle way of seeing everyone as a complete individual. The most beautiful part of seeking order is that it is a choice: you are sovereign, you opt into order. We spend so much time spinning our wheels trying to gratify ourselves. That’s time that we aren’t becoming deeper, more loving. In the end, order provides a scaffold for building the house of our lives. A scaffold given to us through the songs and stories and prayers and beliefs of our ancestors. There is a beauty and security in that. There is assurance. From assurance comes confidence and trust. With a platform of confidence and trust we can transform the world.

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