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The Secret To Surviving Toxic Waters

I have just finished reading “The Myth of Normal” by psychologist Dr Gabor Mate. In it, he describes that the culture we live in today is actually toxic, but we do not realise it anymore because it has just become so “normal”. He is referring to (toxic) value systems like capitalism, materialism, and the disconnectedness of humanity today. He muses that our toxic culture is invisible to us, in the same way as a fish swimming in polluted water its whole life only knows this reality and no other. So therefore, the fish thinks “Ah, this is normal life”, but actually the water is harming it more than it realizes.

At the end of the book he concluded that individuals who defy “conventional normality” turn out to be the most healthy ones; i.e. the ones who are able to both recognise and survive the toxicity.

It is poignant to note that a writer who is an unbeliever (coming from a Jewish heritage and was a Holocaust survivor), discerned the above realities of the world we live in today.

What more us, as disciples of Jesus Christ?


I immediately drew the link to how we Christians should see ourselves as sojourners (and not permanent dwellers) in this land. We are in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-16).

“ 14 I [Jesus] have given them [disciples] your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world,  just  as  I  am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

But as we know, being perpetual sojourners can be painful and terribly isolating. Therefore it seems plain to me that we would only be able to survive the toxicity of this world by staying united in His Spirit and learning to extend compassion to one another in this community.

My prayer is that God can grant us the courage to live our lives unconventionally and radically, with Jesus at the helm, and fellow believers as our faithful travel companions.

By sister Cheryl Yap

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