The Paradox Within
The following three paragraphs is a short essay originally titled ‘The paradox of our age’ written by Rev.Dr. Bob Moorehead.
“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, yet less time; we have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, yet more problems; more medicine, but less wellness; we take more vitamins but see fewer results. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values; we fly in faster planes to arrive there quicker, to do less and return sooner; we sign more contracts only to realize fewer profits; we talk too much, love too seldom, and lie 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; plan more, but accomplish less; we make faster planes, but longer lines; we learned to rush, but not to wait; we have more weapons, but less peace; higher incomes, but lower morals; more parties, but less fun; more food, but less appeasement; more acquaintances, but fewer friends; more effort, but less success. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; drive smaller cars that have bigger problems; build larger factories that produce less. We’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, but short character; steep in profits, but shallow relationships. These are times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure and less fun; higher postage, but slower mail; more kinds of food, but less nutrition. These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; these are times of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, cartridge living, throw-away morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to prevent, quiet or kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. Indeed, these are the times!”
Aren’t these thoughts beautiful? The way it summarizes our superfluous yet essential quest for the ‘greater’ things in life – be it technological advancements, biological breakthroughs, conquests of unknown territories, career, ambitions, studies etc. I personally think that this passage and its author, both together, present an interesting lesson to humanity. We might quote this passage in a sermon or in an intellectual gathering, but seldom will we shed light on this passage in its entirety. What I mean to say is that, though people might use the above words to highlight the so called ‘paradox of our age’, little do they know about the greater paradox that lies within. This passage was written by a Christian pastor – Rev.Dr.Bob Moorehead, founder of the Overlake Christian Church, Redmond, Washington (a non denominational church). Though he must have been a person of commendable aptitude in order to gaze through the condition of being a human in this post modern century, even he couldn’t stand blameless in the test of time. Even he succumbed to the otherwise hopeless condition of our age as mentioned in the above passage. He turned out to be a pastor who in reality sexually molested 17 male members of his congregation. A little googling about him would further reveal the gory details.
What caught my attention here is that no matter who ever we are and whatever we believe in – at the core of it all, we human beings are so hopelessly flawed! We build huge walls of morality, ethics, codes of conduct, religiosity etc etc. And within those walls lies our true naked self – the raw, real side of us.
We know that humans by nature are not monogamous, yet we are striving hard to establish a monogamous society. We know that truth is often subdued, yet we are striving for a truthful society. We know that the weak is often abused by the powerful, yet we’d like to believe in a free society. We know that corporations always mean business, yet we’d like to talk about green initiatives. We know that religion was, is and will be the single most powerful reason to initiate wars amongst nations and economies, yet we’d proclaim our uninhibited support for a religious cause.
In short, why are we how we are? The only answer I can think about at this moment is that maybe we all hope for a better tomorrow. Our undying spirit to yearn for a better future must have given birth to concepts like monogamy, morality, tradition, religion, etc. For some brilliant chap somewhere in this world must have realised that the human race wouldn’t survive long enough if it was free to choose what it wanted! Maybe that’s the reason behind the success of institutions like love, marriage etc.
This is what fascinates me: though we all are hopelessly flawed, we’d any given day like to believe in a hopefully bright future! And that just keeps us going!
But the bigger question is: does this insight of our true self really help us to develop greater humane attributes and face the world for what it is today? Does it really help us to forgive a remorseful father who must have raped his daughter? Does it really help us to pardon a penitent nation for bombing another?
I ask these questions to myself and I realize, some questions can never be answered.