W  H  O are You?

By Keith Newman
(From the Soul Searching radio series 1983-92)

"It's not enough to have the outward appearance of identity, to be abreast of the fashions and up with the music and conversations pieces of the times. we need an inner assurance that we are on course and in the process of becoming someone we like."

NO-ONE WARNED US what we were in for when we were first birthed upon this planet. Now weíre old enough to think on the subject it must be time to see what it says on the label.

So who are we? What a good question.

So-called experts have put forward alternatives ranging from the absurd to the plausible.

We could be bits of space dust that floated about in eternity until we found the right environment to mutate into you and I or star children dropped off here on this lonely planet by flying saucers. Maybe weíre the penal colony of the Universe?

Itís even been suggested that we began our lives as flatworms some 600 million years ago. From there we grew tentacles, scales, internal skeletons, became reptiles and through varying evolutionary stages were transformed into the reasoning biped which now questions its own existence.

Many people follow the Biblical reasoning which tells us God created humankind in his image. Whether he created the planet and all upon it in six days or six billion years Iím not prepared to argue.

I do, however, find it difficult to conceive that the planet and all living forms upon it, were created by some belch at the backside of nowhere.

Equally, if my family tree includes a bunch of flatworms then itís pretty pointless asking who I am. The answers going to be a disappointment. For a start it tells me that Iím a freak of nature ó an accident which decided that the earth was a good place to happen.

If thatís the case it doesnít matter much what I believe, or how I live my life. I am a law unto myself and should do all I can to fulfill my own desires and needs, regardless of the consequences.

If God enters the picture though, thereís every reason to believe that creating men and women would be exactly the kind of stunt he would have pulled. If he had a hand in it, surely we are not merely ornaments to decorate his well thought out paradise.

Charles Darwin had an awful lot to do with the hopelessness that pervades the planet today. His theories were quickly adopted by scientists and philosophers desperately looking for answers to how humanity got here.

I have no difficulty with the idea that humanity has evolved over periods of time to adapt to the environment. To cope with heat, dryness, living by the water, in the jungle or the desert certain skills have had to be developed and passed on from generation to generation. Certain foods are prevalent in some parts of the world and scarce in others, accordingly the body has lost or developed the use of some organs.

I do not, however, see any evidence of a race of people who still have tails and gills because they live near the water or have developed wings because they live in pole houses.

Darwinís theory suggests that matter, plus time, plus chance will eventually give rise to intelligent life. The eminent scientist Sir Fred Hoyle compared such an eventuation to the likelihood that a tornado tearing through a junkyard would leave an airworthy 747 in its wake.

But I donít want to argue about evolution or delve back into some Jurassic Park for clues to our identity. I am more concerned about who we are here and now?

Genealogy can play an important part in establishing continuity about where we've come from but to delve back into the murky mists of time for clues is not particularly helpful.

Just as an Ethiopian canít change his skin or the leopard its spots so we must also make the most of our circumstances.

Accepting yourself is the first step on the journey to realise who we are and where we are heading.

A quick look around will soon confirm that we are all unique ó each of us remarkable and unsurpassable in our own special way. The battle to tap that uniqueness, to get at the heart of hidden potential has been going on since the begining of time.

We all wish to know where we fit in and how to exercise the qualities and gifts which make us so different.

The unfortunate thing is that knowing ourselves mostly comes from the feedback we get from others. If we are constantly being put down, our self esteem is damaged. It becomes increasingly difficult to feel good about our lives and attaining our true potential.

If, however, we receive encouragement and support from those around us, at home, school and in the workplace, it is easier to step out and aim for new heights.









Some people think too highly of themselves ó they have airs and graces beyond their station. They imagine themselves above others. They are described by those who know them as superior, haughty, snobbish, self -centred, stuck up, arrogant and proud ó but we shouldnít be too quick to judge because that is a trait in the kind of person we are describing.

We can also have too low an estimate of our worth and value. But how do you improve your outlook if you feel crushed inside, or if you are always on the end of someoneís put downs. Thatís why I prefer to believe God is at the centre of the big picture rather than chaos and disorder.

Somehow we have a seperate identity to fulfill. Perhaps that knowledge is locked away within our being awaiting unfoldment.

The search may be temporarily accomodated by food and the novelty of our surroundings like it was in early childhood, but once those cravings are met there is still a longing to know answers to the deeper questions in life.

An awful lot happens in those formative years of a child's life. Iím told during our first seven years we acquire as much learning as we are likely to in the rest of our alotted 70 or so. That seems strange.

Perhaps when things start to get serious we lose our sense of adventure. Instead of further pioneering, we let the world squeeze us into its mould. When that happens it becomes increasingly difficult to dare to be different.

None of us can afford to stay unchanged for too long otherwise the world begins to pass us by. Many people have been able to burst this bubble of indifference through personal shock or trauma, or a deep revelation of spiritual need.

Once we get past childhoodís end, it all seems to pan out and slow down. The mystery and beauty of life often take a backseat and we cease to enjoy the scenery. We become glued to the white line instead of taking a firm hold of the steering wheel with a knowledge of where the road is leading

A freer more creative outlook, a new way of looking at things, is often needed to help restore the sense of awe and wonder that permeated pre-adolescence.

One good safeguard against spiritual stagnation is to ask yourself what am I becoming?íí. If youíre not happy with the answer that alone should be sufficient to spur you into action.

Sometimes we need to take time out for some serious internal analysis ó to think things through ó to ponder the mysteries of life and let the sense of wonder catch us up. Sometimes just being there in the stillness is a good place to begin.

If you donít have respect and confidence in yourself then how are you going have anything worthwhile to convey to others?

Itís not enough to have the outward appearance of identity, to be abreast of the fashions and up with the music and conversation pieces of the times. We need an inner assurance that we are on course and in the process of becoming someone we like.

We all instinctively know there is an answer. A personal answer. The answer is not some long theological rave ó it is not some theory about evolution or some professorís discovery in a test tube.

The answer does not have to do with some missing link. The only missing link is the one between us and the one who destined us to be here. The link can be recoupled as we allow Jesus Christ to stand in the breach.

God cares for humanity a great deal. The Bible says he calls every star by its name and knows the number of hairs on our head. He knows every sparrow that drops to the ground but says we are of more interest to him than many sparrows.

If God is the Supreme Commander of Operation Earth then we have good reason to search out why heíd bother. That certainly has given me good reason to inquire further into the matter. I canít be you and you canít be me. It stands to reason.

There are no places for stopping on this road to discovery only deceptively comfortable resting places. Fulfilment begins with having a positive self image. Jesus made it plain that after placing God at the top of our love list we would be able to love others with the same love we have for ourselves.

A being as complex as the human certainly doesnít inspire misty images of a long lineage of flatworms or cosmic dust particles dancing in the primordal porridge of evolution.

I am convinced there is a design of far grander proportion being worked out. The unravelling mystery of existence and identity is part and parcel of it. Humankind coupled with Christ equals an identity and a future as varied as the Creator himself.

Further information: wordman@wordworx.co.nz

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