Monday, June 26, 2006

Principle of "Downward Mobility"

I read of an interesting phrase used by Henri Nouwen. It's "downward mobility." In an article published in 1981, Nouwen wrote against people's uncontrolled drive for wealth, prestige,power, and ambition in today's world.

In other words, what prevails is "upward mobility." That's characteristic of lots of people nowadays, especially in the American, European, or materialistic cultures. In our Filipino/Asian culture, it's common to refer to those aspiring for upward mobility as "social climbers."

Nouwen wrote: "The great paradox which Scripture reveals to us is that real and total freedom can only be found through downward mobility. The Word of God came down to us and lived among us as a slave. The divine way is indeed the downward way."

To be honest, I, like everybody else, would struggle in this area. It goes against all natural instincts! When I think of my life, I think of two "poles": one is the pole that says I must accumulate wealth, power, prestige etc. in order to be successful, which appears to be the easier road; the other is the pole that reflects the sacrificial life of Christ lived for others, yet couldn't quite live.

Yet we are to choose the divine way for our own sake. It points to the true source of life. As Jesus said, "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39)

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