When Freedom becomes Walls

By CCD contributor: Li Daonan, March 22, 2018 15:03 PM

The evening road (unsplash.com)

A couple days ago, while meeting with an old friend whom I hadn't seen for two years, he said the same thing as two years ago: he's very lonely in the cold society.

According to him, money is everything in today's world and people merely use each other. So don't rely on your boss or coworkers to comfort you when you fail. In the world of strangers, everyone shares equal loneliness and sadness.

He said that there is too much paternity and not enough maternity in today's society.  The paternity here means power and authority while maternity is love and comfort.  He might miss the former world where men dominate, while in today's world women seem to have more power than men, so as a man he feels disappointed in this society.

This reminds me of the 90s when commercially developed buildings were first available.  People began to sell their old homes and move into these new buildings in the city.  The urbanization had begun and the media made fun of the bars seen on many windows in the city, comparing city dwellers to prisoners.  They constantly talked about the "simplicity" of rural life where people open their doors to see neighbors and eat on the roadside.

In the country, people rarely go further than five kilometers from their homes.  People didn't need to worry about inter-personal relationships, let alone keep their guard up.  The simplicity of the countryside made it reasonable for people to miss it.  People's relationships are simple:  Men and women, parents and children, they are clear social positions.  In this rural structure, everyone knows his place from birth, making it easy to manage. 

The city, on the other hand, is different.  The population has thousands or tens of thousands of people more than the countryside.  Excepting co-workers, it is possible to know no one, not even neighbors.  There is no rank in the city, and except for bathrooms, there is no distinction between men and women.

Walls replaced walls, and people have to be careful how they talk.  Speaking too loudly will make one despised.

With the distance of the city, not even relatives feel very close.  When you are hurt, no one is there to comfort you, and no one is there to envy you when you succeed.

Compared to the country, cities completely neglect individuals, and loneliness has become the name of the city.  Country mores are treated coldly in the city, and shelters are probably the only places with any warmth for people.   

After 20 years of urbanization, the city mores that used to be mocked and misunderstood have become the standard for civilization.  Installing bars is now seen as a sign of being safety conscious.  Talking in a low voice is considered good manners, and the indifference between strangers is called "respecting privacy."  None of the changes are out of indifference, but rather people trying to make a place for themselves.  Compared to everyone seeing each other in a small town, the city provides more privacy.  It gives you enough room to show your individuality.

When the Protestants started the Temperance movement, city folks used dance and jazz music to mock them as bumpkins.  Similarly, when industrialization encouraged urbanization in the 19th century, young artists like Theodore Rousseau, Constant Troyon, and Charles Olivier de Penne, who missed a rural life, gathered in the French village of Barbizon, using their works to mock the degenerate cities.  However, the Barbizon School and its focus on natural scenes were soon forgotten.

The country is now no more than a place for scenic views and short rests, not a home for the soul. 

The modern "Barbizon schools" started to defame the city.  All their words focused on the beauty of the countryside, turning a blind eye to ills such as looting fruit from a fallen truck or stealing unripened onions out of the ground.  They would not say how bad the security was in the country.  They deliberately fabricated a perfect home for their souls, declaring that it was the "Eden" for humanity.  However, they failed to see that many people voted with their feet, leaving the countryside to look for a better life and improvements for themselves.

The city is expanding while the countryside is shrinking. 

City dwellers communicate and enjoy each others' friendship in a way that is different from the country.  In this group that villagers are not familiar with, the seemingly lonely individuals are enjoying a warmth of comfort as well as the happiness of comforting others.

Loneliness is just an egg laid by a man in a case who has no interest in sticking his head out. 

Though the city remains open, those who cannot accept city culture may find something in common.  They gather together and create isolated worlds.  Of these, the religious one has been most successful.

Originally, Jesus presented a single faith to us.  It faces the world but works toward a higher goal: Heaven.  However, it is seen that most traditional churches isolate themselves and block out developments and trends from the outside world. 

For example, children are taught humility and submission instead of confidence.
The differences between men and women are once again stressed.
Personal space has disappeared.
Life, including lova and marriage, are exposed for all to see.
Centering life on the church is greatly advocated as a sign of devotion.
Following church mores and rules is stressed every day.

These teachings are not wrong in and of themselves.  However, the church locks believers into dogmatism without allowing them to form their own faith and knowledge of Jesus.  That is not what Jesus wanted when He established the church.  Some churches emphasize obedience in believers, but they forget that Jesus allowed his followers to doubt, explore, and think.  Jesus allowed them to see His process so they would understand that He was the Christ. 

This dogmatism is frequently like the fear of someone in the 80s who left the village for the city.  They want to keep these people in the church without fussing or thinking.  Good doctrine has become a set of walls.    Those who doubt and disobey are viewed as enemies who destroy everyone's sense of security.  The country life those scholars missed is repeating in the church.  Church members are deliberately given the ideas that they are weak so that the leaders can leverage their "sacrifices" for authority.

The city doesn't care about country culture because it is confident.  While the country deliberately forms a fear of the city without mentioning its reliance on the city.  There is a controversy within the traditional church.  They are relying on the world while denying, resisting, and even cursing it.  Isn't this exploiting the world's tolerance and convenience to create their own closed off space.  After all,

Loneliness is just an egg laid by a man in a case who has no interest in sticking his head out

translated by: Grace Hubl

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