I really enjoyed this essay of Lewis because I could apply it to my life. In the beginning, he tells his audience that he is going to give advice and issue warnings. He says that he is not going to warn us about the Devil and the Flesh, but he is going to warn us about the World. He starts his essay by telling the story of the young second lieutenant Boris Dubretskoi, who discovers that there two different systems or hierarchies that exist in the army. He uses this story to introduce his topic, the Inner Ring.
The Inner Ring is found everywhere you go. Lewis writes that you will find the Rings in “whatever hospital, inn of court, diocese, school, business, or college.” Most have experienced being inside and outside of this Ring. Lewis believes, “One of the most dominant elements in a man’s life is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.” Society is one of these rings, in which we strive to follow the social norm. We see many examples of this in society. Teenage girls are becoming anorexic because of the outside pressures of Hollywood and beauty magazines that display unhealthy, skinny bodies. These girls want society to notice them for being thin and beautiful. In other cultures, it is beautiful to have more curves and be average weight. Striving to enter the Inner Ring of our society can be extremely dangerous.
I believe the main reason why we want to be in this Inner Ring is to make ourselves feel like we are “cool” or popular or a good person. People will try to go in this dangerous Inner Ring, even though they know that it is wrong or not even that much fun. For example, many high school students will choose to smoke and drink because they want others to accept them. Only a few are willing to stand outside of this Ring and refuse to join in with the popular people’s party. In middle school and high school, the Inner Rings were everywhere. I was very self-conscious about what people would think about my new shirt or how they would like my nice brand of jeans. I felt like I couldn’t talk to the “popular” kids because I wasn’t at their status. I was afraid that I would be mocked and rejected. When I got to college, everything was different. Here, nobody really pays attention to what others wear, or if someone wears the same shirt that they wore less than a week ago. There are still Inner Rings at college, but they are not as well defined as they were in high school.
Because the Inner Rings will always exist, it is important that we are aware of them. Lewis writes, “Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life…” It is part of our human nature to desire the acceptance and recognition of others. To be outside of the Ring causes us anguish, but once we enter the Ring, it may bring happiness for a short time. This pleasure will be short lived because the circle cannot have from within the charm it had on the outside. For example, once a teenager has finally been accepted into the popular group by smoking or attending a few parties, he may realize that he cannot be happy because he is not being himself; rather he is putting on a show for others. Being in the Inner Ring is not as great as it seems from the outside.