Since the Ann Widecombe encounter I have been reflecting on a conversation about how people become a caricature of themselves. That is, as people see one thing in themselves that others like, comment on or creates some some positive reward, that part becomes exaggerated.
As youth workers we swim in the semiotic fluid of culture, engaging young people on their terms and using their language etc. We appropriate the culture we are engaging, critic it, challenge it, and in a worst case scenario it is easy to lose yourself in the process. As youth workers we constantly work with and engage the he more we engage the culture, through newspapers, friends, film and the creators of culture. We live in an outward way making it harder to hear from inward selves. Recently, when I have been speaking around mission and the importance of culture as a source for the divine. The conversations keep returning to the themes of personal spiritual disciplines. This is the source to hear from the inward and brings balance, helping us avoid slipping into syncretism and hopefully avoid becoming a caricature of ourselves.
Henry Thoreau say “when our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper or been told by a neighbor; and for the most part the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper or been out to tea and we have not. In proportion as our inward life fails we go more constantly and desperately to the post office. You may depend on it that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters proud of his extensive correspondence has not heard from himself in a long while.”