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What is Inward?

Updated on September 24, 2013
Samuel Shoemaker
Samuel Shoemaker | Source

I write this hub in response to a fellow hubber who once asked me what I meant by the introverted elements that make us who we are, that power “within” each individual, that unconscious “knowing” from which we derive all that we value and believe. And I do so because, to me, it is in this current political climate that we are experiencing a catastrophic loss of what we know to be true in ourselves as a people and as a country. We have surrendered our inward selves to a collective ideal or ideas of what is “good” or what is “true.” But we cannot be true individuals - or "free" - if we lose our freedom to think as individuals, and we cannot truly retain our freedoms if we lose our individuality. In fact, each is dependent on the other.

The hubber who asked me this question was also, ironically, involving himself in "psychological" mind games with me. I will not go into specifics here, but as I got to read more of the comments to his hubs and see how others were treated, I knew that I was not alone in the manner I was treated, which was to say the least, a relief. It was truly a relief to know I was not singled out for the abuse, I mean. But I wish to answer his question anyway. There is so much to be said on this topic, but I'll give it a shot.

“To Thine Own Self Be True” is a phrase used to describe the healing of one's inward life; but this phrase, if we are to be true to its meaning, is truly only found where it is allowed, that for Americans in particular is found in the “freedoms” our Constitution provides us as individuals. So, when we lose “individual “freedoms,” we do also lose our individual souls, and whether you’re an atheist or a believer, you know what I am talking about.

For example, on the outside I am a woman. But more than I am a woman I am an individual. While the current philosophical trends seek to make an individual’s journey to individual happiness one of “extroverted” equality (as do all the "isms" of far left culture) as a view merely seen, it must also by necessity focus on “extroverted” elements of what is “feminine” or “masculine” to comport with its theory. That, in turn, in order to succeed, requires emphasis by an “extroverted” consensus that is focused only on the “extroverted” appearance and the outward characteristics of a person, which we may all agree on some superficial level is true to some degree at any given time in our lives but is also naive if we are told to seek it only in an “extroverted” way. For we know we are more than how others see us.

However, while this machination, if you will, brings greater focus on “inequality” for view by “outward” eyes (like a glossy photograph), it simultaneously crushes other intellectual and emotional elements that make up what we are, or what is “androgynous” in matters of personal dealings, love, relationships, communications. Consequently, relationships and personal inventory become tainted with a superficiality that falls within “group” characteristics that define it, when we all know by sheer life and living that persons are more than what they appear to be by any "group" definition.

Who has not seen the overtly feminine woman who, within, possesses a tower of strength usually characteristic of a man and which is only seen by those who took the time to know her? And, vice-versa: who has not seen the overt machismo exterior of a man overshadowed by his more feminine but subtle sensitivity?

To exist as an individual is, to me, what “freedom” truly is in the United States. It is an existence that can only be found in the individual and it is a path – believe it or not – few take in life. (I am reminded of the verse in the Bible that describes heaven – that Jesus Christ teaches is “within” – as that state of consciousness where there is (Galatians 3:28) neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus and (29) if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”) So “freedom” and “equality” is that which does not deny the individual to go the road less traveled, but encourages it, and spiritual depth being one of those roads that is a choice. The Founding Fathers made no demand that all be believers of God, but they also allowed freedom for those that do. Current secular philosophies on the other hand - even though they make up a minority - do not allow for belief in God (and Jesus Christ they hate most of all). On its face then, which is more superior in intellectual inquiry regarding aspects of "freedom" and "individuality"?

To me, the Founding Fathers sought to preserve that quality of the individual while at the same time provide a means that a people could live peaceably recognizing that the "inward life" would sustain them when called upon or chosen, meaning, of course, one need not choose it. One would find it eventually, but they do not have to choose it. And people were free as long as they did not break laws, and that freedom would unleash the vast resources that allowed a people to govern themselves as a "republic."

Is it any wonder that, at least formerly, the United States has produced more intellectual and creative persons than any country on earth?

Sometimes I think the whole world is falling apart because it is being pulled apart by the war between the extroverted thinkers and introverted thinkers that comprise it. I am reminded of the movie "Amadeus" (that movie about the life of Mozart) where we see an aspiring composer "jealous" of Mozart. While Mozart lives hearing the music in his mind (for he is an "introvert"), or in the wind on his face, or in the emotions that grip him as a man, the aspiring jealous composer (the extrovert) is reaching "outside" himself to be better than Mozart. That thing that he is jealous of then has nothing to do with Mozart at all, but he will never admit it to himself. In fact, his jealousy will produce a hate and that hate will cause him to make Mozart responsible for all his unhappiness.

To me, the Declaration of Independence was written to protect persons like Mozart, and why not? He wants for nothing but to think. He does not compare himself to others but wants the freedom of his isolation. Like Steve Jobs, he wanted to "create" something without any obstacles bombarding his mind from the outside world. He desired nothing more than to transcribe what he could "hear" in his head.

It was De Tocqueville who said in 1848: "Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

It never ceases to amaze me how often I see some who belong to "groups" not honest with themselves. Perhaps you’ve seen it too? In high school it is rampant. It is part of growing up, when we first see that person we wish we could be friends with or that "popular" group we wished we belonged to. But I not only see group psychology in “secular” groups, but also in “religious” groups as well. For example, just as we may know of one who is obedient to the dictates of Church Law, we can often see plainly enough in our personal dealings with some people - that make an outward show of good - how they delight in psychological foreplay with another, but believe all the while that no one can see it, and that therefore since no one can see it, it isn’t wrong. This frequently is a result of an individual’s obedience to extroverted group philosophy that blinds him or her from seeing what they are doing, or to care what they are doing even when they know they’re doing something wrong, or even aware that others see it. People have called me too "sensitive," but, as I set forth below, I would not necessarily call it "sensitive" but, rather, "discerning." You can be the judge.

One case I brought to a pastor's attention involved a fellow parishioner, an ex-felon, recently released from prison (after 25 years) for partaking in a gang rape of a woman that left the woman a quadriplegic. The man would confess that he did not take part in it, that by circumstances only had he been implicated. Yet he served 25 years, and while the crime was "in the past" for all practical purposes, it was my observation after several communications with the man that on the surface (extrovertedly) he appeared healed; however I would learn later that inside his inner self (introvertedly) his past self remained.

He found Jesus, and I have no doubt he thoroughly embraced God’s free grace. Yet, outside the church, and in his personal dealings with me in the Church, he revealed his continued deep hatred of women by his words and deeds.

I saw it plainly and in action, even though I did not, at first, take it to the attention of the pastor. For one thing, outside the church, he was increasingly making his presence constantly known in my life. Every day when I arrived off the train from work, he was there waiting to pick me up. He was a taxi driver, I must add; however, that his schedule permitted him to wait on me revealed his desire to know me better. I told myself this was not something to fear (and I asked myself, “Am I judging him?”). But then one day, during an informal church gathering and while I was sitting alone, he, along with one of his fellow bikers (a member of famous biker’s gang), leaned into me and said, “Oh, how come you’re so sick…ahhhhh”? (and I was not well that day) in a tone of mockery from which they both laughed. I tried to laugh about it myself until I saw the look on the ex-con's face that was filled with rage, and I suspect - can only suspect - he was hurt by my efforts to keep our relationship confined to only church gatherings (this was after I had told him "I have a ride home" when he arrived at the train station the day before to pick me up).

His growing hatred towards me he did well to keep out of sight from others in the church, and while I was getting increasingly fearful I did not want to make a complaint of any kind, not yet. Why? Well, I wanted to see if he would get over the fact that I was not interested in going out with him. But I thought too about how he denied his involvement with the crime, and then thought: 25 years? What kind of crime would one have to commit to get 25 years?

There was a deep hateful affliction in this man that he gave free reign, in large part too perhaps because others - except me - did not see it. To him, it was okay then to be that way. That others regarded him as truly repentant was not an argument I would take up with them. How does one purge themselves of their worst affliction if they do not acknowledge it exists, and what good would my reporting his behavior do anyway? It might make matters even worse for me.

Extroverted, rather than introverted, personal inventory in groups ultimately destroys one’s individual willingness to be honest with themselves especially when the outward practice of a faith does not command it. But does that mean we cannot or should not say anything? Naturally I became a bit frightened and sought to avoid him. I eventually approached the pastor of the church but said nothing about his constant new presence in my life. I merely recounted the “taunting” he engaged towards me with his friend. The pastor’s suggestion? “Pray about it,” he said.

I eventually left the church – mostly to avoid contact with this ex-con – but later discovered, after he called a friend of mine years later – that other parishioners began to see the same thing. He told my friend on the phone, “They tell me I am not truly repentant of my crimes in the past.” When my friend told me this, I truly did feel sympathy, for his burden was one he too could not bear to accept, and I suspect he wanted so much to be accepted. But at whose expense? Certainly it was not God’s expense, for his loneliness was abated only in the presence of those he was not truthful. I believe he thought I understood him, and he was drawn to me because I knew his struggle. Yet, what produced his reluctance to see himself? I almost could see a parallel between the circumstances that led to his conviction and the manner in which he related to the church. The “inward” life was absent. The forgiveness he was seeking was like a reach into the stratosphere – extrovertedly – into the heavens with a passion equal if not herculean in its efforts to “feel something" in return. Yet it would elude him time and time again. I was left with the thought, “If the church taught grace, as the Bible does, would he have found it”?

[If Samuel Shoemaker were alive he probably would have sat the ex-con down in his office and talked to him, got to know him, man-to-man. (To those who do not know who Samuel Shoemaker was, he was a pastor who founded "The Bowery Mission" and brought sobriety to thousands of drunkards many years ago. He was an "inward" man. He dealt directly with what made a person "callous" or hateful of life itself. His famous phrase is, "Abandon yourself, let go! Say to yourselves, "Thy will be done.") Naturally, as a woman, anything I said would have been viewed as an invitation in my life that I did not want. I was powerless, so I had to leave the church.]

My point? There is something deeper to our individual characters that necessitates us all to take a deep personal and honest inventory, whether one is a believer or not, and no group can arise in a social context that can in a collective manner simply “put a lid on it” or change that deep character gift or curse, or even prejudice, we might be wrestling with in our lives. Work provides an "extroverted" release and focus, but to collectivize around an "extroverted" view blinds the whole of the group. It is in fact the truth that groups sometimes blind us from our best selves and contribute most to our worst selves. To believe that “extrovertedly” we find our deepest longings fulfilled in any group is a lie, even when it is a church. We are individuals first, with an inward life, and in any group this must not be forgotten.

When people speak of “losing freedom,” they basically for the most part speak of it as it relates to “healthcare” or social programs of one kind or another. To me, however, losing freedom is losing the soul, not only in a secular group, but in all groups. That is because to lose freedom is to lose our individuality that renders us powerless against our low self-esteem and deceives us into believing we do not have the intellect or control of our minds to change ourselves - when we actually do have that power. When we spend more time on thinking on how we can be accepted by groups more than how we can make better our inward selves, we no longer direct our own paths but are thrown in the direction others construct for us. We stop thinking our own thoughts, and to our detriment, we stop taking moral inventory. Above all, we stop caring about each other. And I don’t care if you are a believer in God or an atheist, because people on both sides of the aisle know this is true when groups alone strive for power.

The person who asked me about the "inward" life and what I meant by it - the fellow hubber above mentioned - reminded me of this ex-con. Not by the type of crime committed, and neither did I fear him. But the likeness was only in how he enjoyed "playing" with my head, and then pretending he did not know what I was referring to. And then tell me he is Christian? If Jesus Christ and the Bible speak of the inward life as a reservoir from which we have a relationship with God, then why would this follower of those teachings be playing with my head and then profess with his mouth the Bible to be the Word of God? Doesn't he know that what he does in the silence of himself is the only thing he takes with him in the next life? Doesn't he know or believe that what he thinks he is hiding is not hidden to God?

We ought to be united only in our individuality, and not by the force of groups, if we are to find ourselves true, first for God if we believe, and then for country, to the benefit of all. This is truly the only progressive idea that I believe will sustain us as a nation, and the only thing that truly sustains us in all manner of living and life as an individual with an inward life.


Submit a Comment
  • cynthtggt profile imageAUTHOR

    Cynthia Taggart 

    5 years ago from New York, NY

    Thanks for stopping by, MsDora. If I had been a man perhaps I could have made the ex-con see what he was doing. That the pastor felt not only powerless in what to say to me, but in also what to do about it at the time made me feel abandoned by the church. It was hurtful in that I thought the men should have stepped up to the call. He wanted to be "forgiven," not just by God but by people, but it is a lot to take in for people, the nature of the crime I mean. I certainly thought him likeable and friendly when we first met at the church. But then I felt devoured. I think Samuel Shoemaker, if he were the pastor, would have talked with him and told him what was more important. This man had a problem with women. Period. Why not be chaste? He knew he had cancer. With the little time left, what was he doing? Do I believe he believed? Yes. Was he fervent and hopeful to the end? Yes. He died of cancer. Was he saved? I think so. He truly had a strong faith too. We are what we are, but what is grace and why has the church stopped - or has it ever really dealt with - the message of grace?

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    5 years ago from The Caribbean

    You've given us much to think about here. That inward view seems not so easy to experience. For whatever reason, sometimes it is elusive. For example, the ex-con might have needed help to focus. Your last paragraph is very forceful. Thanks for this presentation.


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