Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Profile in Superficiality

I must confess, this was pretty eerie, especially after I saw a report about the increasing acceptance of plastic surgery. And this, on the heels of actor Ashley Judd's comments about the preoccupation with her features on her new television show 'Missing'.

The Twilight Zone, is one of those series that never gets old. I think of them as morality plays that teach us more about the human condition than we are sometimes comfortable with.

In his introduction, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, sets the period for this 1964 episode ('Number 12 Looks Just Like You), in the year 2000. Can anyone argue that we are becoming a less thoughtful, less substantive culture? Or that our primary concern is with 'happiness'; that we have found some pill or elixir that is capable of altering our mood to enable us to live more 'stress free'?

Or how about our ideas of beauty, normalcy, or the categories in which we profile people - 'safe', 'unsafe', or 'threatening'?

The government doesn't 'force' people to undergo cosmetic surgery in order to conform to a preset image of beauty and acceptability. Yet we certainly have societal 'norms' which cause us to treat one another differently because of how they look, where they are from, or even their politics. And we certainly do have code words that label people as 'other' who do not fit those norms.

It appears that Rod Serling was more prophetic than he realized. Not in predicting the era and time frame, but in his diagnosis of the human spirit: the less challenged we are to understand and accept others who are different; the more we live in communities and sphere's of influence that only serve as echo chambers for perspective on life that make us comfortable, the less authentic we are as human beings. We become entrenched in lives of stagnating sameness and ripe pickings for anyone who continually tells us only what we want to hear.

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