I have been thinking about the concept of levelling. I guess Merton would call it alienation. I like to think of it in terms of people becoming objects and the impersonalness of the modern world. But Kierkegaard calls it “levelling”: the victory of the abstract over the individual.
For a politician I am a vote, for a supermarket I am a consumer, for (some) churches I am a “bum on a seat”. For none of these I am an individual with individual experiences, hurts, or desires. I am simply something that can serve their purposes. I sometimes think that the only virtue left in the modern age is “conformity”.
The modern issue, the modern sin, is turning people into objects – something that can be measured and defined. But there is something more about each one of us. I am more than the sum of my parts. I can be measured but I cannot be defined. Between the measuring and the defining is choice.
I have seen in the last three month how impersonal the world can be. How I am just a number without feelings, pain, or needs. And I have experienced that in churches too. (Not my current church!) The first step – my choice – is to see all people as people. Love calls me to choice the good of the other without asking their worthiness. Love calls me to see the other as an individual person who is “so much more”.