Tuesday, January 02, 2018
The Sting of Relative Deprivation
My new book is Leading the Presence-Driven Church.
Part of humanity's primitivity, fallenness, and citizenship in the kingdom of darkness, is comparison due to prevailing honor-shame hierarchies. Flesh-bound humanity lives and dies off comparing themselves, up or down, with others. This becomes one's identity, which is fleeting and ever-shifting. This is a source of bipolar euphoria or depression, depending on which direction one looks, with the usual orientation being up towards others who are "better," "higher," "greater," "more beautiful," hence deserving of greater honor.
The depth of this sickness is seen in Adam Alter's Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.
Alter refers to a former Wall Street trader, Sam Polk, who published an op-ed in the New York Times, entitled "For the Love of Money." Alter writes:
"Polk was describing the principle of social comparison. We constantly compare what we have to what other people have, and the conclusions we draw depend on who those people are. A bonus of $40,000 looks terrific when you remember that some of your friends earn $40,000 a year; but if your friends are high-flying traders who earn $40,000 a week, you’ll be disappointed. Humans are inherently aspirational; we look ahead rather than backward, so no matter where we stand, we’ll tend to focus on people who have more. That experience produces a feeling of loss, or deprivation, relative to those other people. That’s why Polk was never happy; no matter how much he earned, there was always someone who earned more. As ridiculous as it may sound, even billionaires are poor next to multibillionaires, so they, too, feel the sting of relative deprivation." (Alter, 118-119)
Alter asked Polk how pervasive this deprivation disease was. Polk responded, “I think it’s 90-plus percent pervasive in finance, and I also think it goes way beyond finance.” (Alter, 119)
It goes back to the Garden.
It is at the heart of humanity's sin-disease.
It is the root of shame and pride, and at feeds the Metricized Church. (See, e.g., Os Guinness, Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times.)
This is our imprisonment.
This is what we need to be redeemed from, and delivered out of.
What is needed is a full-being baptism into the non-metric, unquantifiable love of God.
So that we might transcend The Hierarchy, The System, and be thereby liberated to aspire to true greatness, which is non-comparative, because rooted in the love of God.