This was the perfect piece of writing to end the class with. Lewis discusses inner rings- the second or unwritten systems that exist within societies. I'm sure many of us had visions back to middle or high school, because that's where we tend to witness the inner rings-the cliques, the clubs, and the exclusive groups. We all have wanted at one point or another, and might still want, to be a part of something...to belong. Lewis gives advice to students about these rings.
We are never formally admitted into rings by anyone, but we all know they exist and that we are either on the outside or inside of them. "One of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside." This statement is so true. Who didn't want to be a part of the cheerleading squad or the football team in high school? I hated cheerleading, and disliked most of the girls on the team, but I longed to be a part of their exclusive group. They were popular! Everyone loved them! Of course I wanted to be envied like they were. Lewis describes it like this..."A terrible bore...ah, but how much more terrible fi you were left out! It is tiring and unhealthy to lose your saturday afternoons: but to have them free becuase you don't matter, that is much worse." It's better to be a part of something you hate than to be alone, right? This is how the rings make us think; what would be the point of a club if no one was denied?
So we do all that we can to be accepted into a ring. The passion for the inner ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things, says Lewis. How many times have we dressed a certain way, spoke in a certain slang, or bought items to make us fit in? This desire to fit in can make us do crazy things. However, as long as we are governed by this desire we will never actually get what we want. "You are trying to peel an onion: if you succeed there will be nothing left. Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain." If I had pursued the cheerleading squad, my pleasure would have been very short lived. That's because I wanted to joing simply to be popular, not because I enjoyed the sport. Also, a desire to be a part of the ring is fun in itself. We like to want what we can't have, and once we are given what we want it's lost all it's magic.
"The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it." Once we stop looking for rings to join, we will be unaware of the ring we are in. We will become unaware to a real inside that we are in, that we are snug and safe in something that would like like a ring from the outside. However, the secrecy is accidental and people are not inside it by some lure of the esoteric. It is instead a few people who like the same things, like each other, and are genuinely interested in hearing one another's thoughts- not what other people are thinking on the outside.
This is all easier said than done. It's simple to say that we shouldn't look for groups that will make us popular, but it's what we all do. This isn't just describing what life was like a few years ago before college, it still pertains to us...and it will not stop. Even in the workplace we'll want to fit in with colleagues, but we must work to overcome our desire for the ring. We were all created with a purpose, with different gifts, and we have a lot to offer the world...but we won't be able to use our talents if we are wasting time searching for popularity. I pray for ears that hear God's will for me and eyes to see the people around me who love me for me. God will always accept us, and never reject us- I've never heard of a clique with that kind of generosity.