Sunday, April 15, 2007

Numbers and the Race to the Bottom

I'm likely a little thick but two books that I've just finished (The Rebel Sell and The Paradox of Choice) both talked about the idea of a nuclear arms race in reverse. Great analogy by Schwartz is at a sports game where everyone is sitting down and then one person stands up to get a better view. Everyone in turn must stand up in order to maintain their previous sight line. Now, everyone is equal again but standing up which, from my perspective is actually worse.

We do this all of the time. All it takes is one person to do something then we as people feel compelled to follow just so that we can maintain our social position. One person gets something so obviously cool as an Ipod and then the standard is the Ipod. Clothes, cars, houses etc. are all areas we do it. It isn't just in the original purchase of something like a house. It is in the maintenance. One neighbour redoes their living room, more are to follow just to keep the same relative status.

Now, go and read Marko's post about numbers in youth ministry. All it takes is one youth minister at a conference to bring up numbers and then all others will descend to that level. I chuckle at Len's retort and it does deflate the conversation but that doesn't take away from the fact that the other folks at the table didn't have a comeback and now are stuck in the race to the bottom in terms of numbers. We are status concious creatures. It is something that we use to improve ourselves. We can't really tell if something is better without comparison and since we all want to be more faithful etc., then we all compare ourselves. I don't really know if there is a way to escape this except by internalizing a standard of excellence that is so resistant to outside influence that outside criteria becomes moot. People that comfortable and secure are highly attractive but also highly rare in my experience. Could we shift the criteria so that we have people competing in the right areas?

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2 Comments:

Blogger Glen Soderholm said...

I'm way holier than you.

2:12 PM, April 20, 2007  
Blogger blair said...

Sadly, you are correct as I am a sinner in need of a loving God.

1:04 PM, April 23, 2007  

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