Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Paradox of Our Time

I am not a fan of emails which bemoan our modern society and look back at a simpler, better yesteryear. As attractive as the past may seem, memories conveniently forget such ugly aspects as polio, smallpox, racism, sexism, censorship, pressures to conform, the cold war and numerous other wars.

There has been such an email circulating called The Paradox of Our Time.

It has the objections mentioned above and then some. Philosophically it is a load of rubbish. It suggests, by juxtaposing images, that we have lost values and spirituality and that as a result we have also lost our way. The implicit suggestion is that if we return to those lost values and matters of the spirit, things will be all right. It’s short, sweet and simple, and suits our modern lifestyle of wanting things quick and packaged. (Shit! Now I'm doing it myself!)

George Carlin, who is often attributed as the author, has called it “ a sappy load of shit”, which is probably an accurate summation.

And yet...  I found myself responding to it, mentally nodding in agreement as I read it. That is part of the seductive simplicity and packaged outlook of these types of pieces. Much like driving past a car accident, it’s horrible but we want to look.  It's the same with these items, we know that a lot of it is crap but we want to believe,  we want it to be all so simple and have it make sense.

Before I post the item, you should know that it was written by Dr Bob Moorehead, who retired in 1998 after 29 years as pastor of the Seattle Overlake Christian Church.

No doubt the good doctor himself wishes that, like the person referred to in Midnight Train to Georgia, he was “goin' back to a simpler place and time’, having resigned by reason of allegations that he sexually assaulted male parishioners. He denied the allegations and said that he was resigning for the good of the church.  In 1996 he had been arrested on a charge of indecent exposure in a public restroom in Florida.

But let’s look at the message and not the messenger.

I would be pleased to receive input on what Byters think…
The Paradox of Our Time

- Dr Bob Moorehead (From Words Aptly Spoken, a 1995 collection of prayers, homilies and monologues)

The paradox of our time in history is that...

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers.
Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but have less.
We buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families.
More conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense.
More knowledge, but less judgment.
More experts, but more problems.
More medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life;
We've added years to life, not life to years.

We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We've conquered outer space, but not inner space;
We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
We've split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less;
We plan more, but accomplish less;
We've learned to rush, but not to wait;
We have higher incomes, but lower morals;
We have more food, but less appeasement;

We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.

We've become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to make a difference, or to just hit delete..
But wait, there's more.

In some of the emails sent, someone added an additional ending to the above.  In case the above message was too subtle and too simple, the anonymous author told us what we should do so as to not worry, be happy...
That’s why I propose, that from now on, you do not keep anything for a special occasion,
Because every day that you live is a special occasion.
Search for knowledge, read more, sit on your front porch and admire the view without paying attention to your needs.
Spend more time with your family and friends, eat your favourite foods, visit places you love.
Life is a chain of moments of enjoyment, not only about survival.
Use your crystal glassware.
Do not save your best perfume, use it every time you feel you want to.
Remove from your vocabulary phrases like 'one of these days' and "someday".
Write that letter you thought of writing 'one of these days'.
Tell your family and friends how much you love them.
Do not delay anything that adds laughter and joy to your life.
Every day, every hour, and every minute is special.
And you don’t know if it will be your last.

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