The “BrandMe” Society

“It’s not enough, apparently, to have lived life well.”

In a Sydney Morning Herald News Review Essay, The Marketing of BrandMe, Hugh Mackay, the well-known observer of Australia social customs and culture, discusses the “virus of self-promotion.” He contrasts self-esteem with self-respect. Recognition — the number of Likes on our Facebook page, the number of people following our Tweets — feeds our self-esteem. The key to rapid recognition in our modern digital society is self-promotion. Everyone suddenly seems to know that — thus the virus of self-promotion has “infected our society” according to Mackay. But what of self-respect?

The virus of self-respect

Mackay says  the “keys to self-respect are humility and self-restraint.” I know that is so — my father was a well-respected man but also humble and restrained. I knew implicitly that he respected himself and from that inner sense of his own strength everything else flowed. As I get older, I recognise more and more the gift he gave me of the way he lived his life. My mother was the same. I guess what I’m saying is that the “virus” of self-respect originates (or doesn’t) in one’s family. If it isn’t there, you can “catch it” elsewhere but life is more difficult without this early foundation.

How Christian parents nurture self-respect

To be clear, I am not saying only Christian parents can nurture self-respect in their children. But Christian parents have a special obligation. Their children’s self-respect — their confidence in their inner strength — has a different origin. To me it lies in the realization that we have a soul, an eternal life to be considered along with everyday things. My Dad wasn’t a Catholic but he always attended the big events in my life like my first Holy Communion, and he helped me with my Catechism. I sensed these were important in my life. My mother was a Catholic and was the major religious influence in my life but my father was 100% supportive of her.  Were we an extraordinarily religious family? I’d have to say no — but my parents clearly communicated that life was more than following the crowd, and had a moral and spiritual dimension. That’s how I think Christian self-respect is nurtured in a family.




4 Replies to “The “BrandMe” Society”

  1. Jim, thank you for your insightful blog. Hugh Mackay has given a great distinction between self-esteem and self-respect and I agree with you that having a core foundation that comes from our family is a gift that provides us with a strong and positive perspective on life. We don’t need to be better than anyone else. We simply need to be the best we can be, for ourselves, for our families, for our communities and for the greater good. Mine wasn’t a particularly religious family. My dad was Irish and rebelled against the challenges religion created in Ireland. However, we were brought up with strong Christian principles and they have stood me and the rest of my family in great stead. Thanks for your blog Jim. All the very best, Suzanne

    1. Thanks Suzanne. Principles are the granite we stand on. They are the greatest preparation for life our parents give us, not as a “to do” list, but built into our way of thinking. We should thank God that we had such parents!

  2. Thanks Jim. As a Christian the best witness you can give is the way you live your life and a life lived in quiet humility with a good dose of social justice and the nuturing of loving relationships goes a long way to self respect. The great commandment love God and love others as you love yourself comes to mind. Living with an outward view rather than a constantly introspective one needs no self promotion. You shine.

    1. That’s a great point. Living looking outward, with awareness and mindfulness of one’s relationships, is really the ideal we ought to pursue. We are all inside a secular system that at times threatens to overwhelm this ideal — but we also live in the presence of grace which empowers us to tame this system, cut it down to size, and be transformational, each in our unique way. Thanks for your comment.

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