I’m making my way through Patrick Morley’s The Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems Men Face. So far, so good! One area that stuck out was Morley’s discussion of the rat race: the pursuit of more, the attempt to keep up with others who have so much. Morley starts chapter one out by telling a short story of a husband and wife running the rat race. He and his wife were working (too) much in order to have the things they always wanted. The husband understood the payoff: “More money, less family. More family, less money.” They went for the money, and the marriage shriveled up.
Morley then asks the great question: “Do you know anyone who has ever won the rat race?”
“This question deserves more than a chuckle, because, upon reflection, most of us will have to acknowledge we really don’t know anyone who has. If that’s the case, then why do we compete in an unwinnable race? “
Later in the chapter the topic turns to consuming:
“Today, men are consumed by desires to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t like. …We are programmed to consume, because the dominant economic theory employed in America is that a progressively greater consumption of goods is beneficial. …Through the media and advertising, which relies heavily on subliminal suggestions, we are consciously and unconsciously lured to go for the Madison Avenue lifestyle. …The lifestyle image we strive for is a media-generated, artificial standard of living. …The more we are exposed to our consumeristic society, the more our lack of contentment intensifies.”
At the end of the chapter Morley writes,
“Perhaps it’s time that Christian men in America check out of the rat race. It’s an unwinnable race.”
Instead of running the unwinnable rat race, Morley says, we should take up the new challenge of the new life we have in Christ: If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor. 5:17 NIV).
So how do we win the rat race? We don’t; we can’t. Morley is right: it’s time to quit running the rat race and fight consumerism, discontentment, and the never-ending desire for more. How do we do this? It will look different in different people’s lives, and Morley talks about different ways later in the book. One thing he notes early on is how he shut his TV off. In my life and opinion, that’s a great way to quit the rat race: cut out media’s influence as much as possible. Shut off screens. Spending much time on Craigslist or Amazon or wherever – that usually doesn’t help in the area of contentment! Feel free to add suggestions; later I’ll come back to this book and discuss this topic more.