Is it “body shaming” to suggest we’re all too large and would be happier if we were much, much smaller? Matt Damon’s upcoming movie, Downsizing, is a comedy about people who allow themselves to be miniaturized so their income will go much farther and their dreams will be affordable. The story apparently presses all the hot buttons of 2017: carbon footprints, unhappiness with one’s biology, the fragmenting family, and the confusion of a world where everything is normal.
It’s a fun idea: you could probably afford the McMansion of your dreams if the scale could be 90% smaller. And you would surely use less fuel driving an SUV from the Hot Wheels toy collection. But good luck when a regular-sized typhoon floods your tiny Leisureville Community- not to mention a sprawling monster hurricane like Harvey or Irma!
It’s not likely shrinking the human body will catch on, so I’ve gotten a better idea: let’s shrink the human ego! Downsizing the self would be a lot more practical. It would wipe out White Supremacy, which is a lingering fever, as well as Moral Superiority, which is a raging epidemic! NFL players would emphasize the team over personal political agendas. What if I stopped emphasizing what makes me special, in favor of the idea that all human beings are equally valuable, created in the image of God? There must be a movie script there: a futuristic world where the human ego is reduced by 90%! I can imagine a few laughs, but it wouldn’t have a lot of violence because people with downsized egos could live together in peace and tranquility, even in Washington, DC or North Korea.
Ironically, I came across a review of Downsizing after watching video of the desperate conditions in SE Texas after that historic storm. A drenched, young woman and her family had just been rescued from their inundated neighborhood. A reporter reached out with a microphone, asking, “How are you?” She replied, “We’re alive. But it humbled us.” She was speaking for the multitudes.
If only those giant sucker punches delivered to Texas and Florida and the Carribean could momentarily knock the wind out of us all. It was almost miraculous how quickly the tone of news reporting changed for a few days as storms approached fragile communities! So much of the political slander, bigotry, character assassination, instant outrage, and moral posturing have been washed away by news of flood waters that continue to rise in cities of despair. Even as Americans grieve the losses being endured by our neighbors in Texas, there is a boundless optimism beginning to build. Neighbors are helping neighbors. The other forty-nine states are sending in rescuers and equipment from hundreds of miles away. Families are giving to charities and churches are organizing to provide relief. None of us is sufficient for such a catastrophe but our combined resources can seriously add up.
Sadly, at this moment in September, the raging debate about NFL players kneeling or locking arms has drowned out reporting from devastated Puerto Rico. Surely, the apocalyptic crisis crushing millions of American neighbors should rate more attention than the perceived slights of a few privileged athletes. If the USA is guilty of sins against humanity, surely one of them is ignoring devastated Puerto Ricans in 2017 while obsessing on an inconsequential debate that will be forgotten in two years.
More generosity and less instant outrage would demonstrate a more accurate appraisal of how small each of us really is and how little we actually know. Less abject scorn in public and the social media would allow space for conversation rather than the unkind, snarky confrontation so popular in every realm of life today. A great society doesn’t require that everyone must be perfect, or even that everyone must agree. Rather, greatness in a land is possible when everyone’s ego is small enough that he can see beyond it to recognize the enormity of God and the value of others.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6
Lift up the Cross!