I had a bad case of the wanting-to-be-importants earlier this week. For me, this generally takes the form of wishing that I had achieved something so impressive that the whole world—or at least everyone I was ever likely to meet—knew of my accomplishments, was favorably impressed by them, and considered me in the top 100 or so human beings of all time. I am not exaggerating.
This model presents a few logical and operational problems. For example, this definition would yield a thousand or two important people out of seven billion. Given that every one of those seven billion people can probably think of at least one person who is personally important to them, the math is a little off. Not to mention that it’s pretty rare to find something that the whole world agrees is a worthwhile accomplishment.
The real danger, though, is not logistical but spiritual because this world of importance is not only all about me but the me it’s about is an external-to-me creation. It’s like seeking to save myself through universal applause.
Salvation has already been taken care of, not because I am Christian but because I exist. As Richard Rohr says, “Incarnation is already redemption….The Earth is good” (from “The Eternal Christ in the Cosmic Story,” an interview with the National Catholic Reporter). That doesn’t mean we don’t do terrible things to each other and to the Earth, but we do them precisely when we are trying to create some version of ourselves rather than get in touch with the reality of ourselves, which is God.
We say this in a lot of different ways in a lot of different faith traditions. It’s impossible to articulate because it’s impossible to say what God is. It doesn’t mean that you or I created the universe single-handedly, which tends to be how we think of God. For me, right now, it means something like this: the very atoms of the universe—including our atoms—are made of God-stuff, and there is God-spirit in each of us connecting us to each other and all of creation and God. And if that doesn’t make us important, nothing is likely to.