Marolt: It’s a matter of style and truth
“Today we experience the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them; many sophisticated means of entertainment, but a deep and growing interior emptiness; many pleasures, but few loves; many liberties, but little freedom … The number of people who feel lonely keeps growing, as does the number of those who are caught up in selfishness, gloominess, destructive violence and slavery to pleasure and money.”
I am amazed at this passage. It is simply straightforward, but as astute an observation of the modern human condition as I have ever read. As it can be applied in many degrees, it hits home and the world we observe every day in equal measure. My guess is that there is not a person alive who cannot feel these words, who cannot understand them deeply on the first reading.
In my own life, sometimes I get caught up in the notion that if I work really hard today then I won’t have to work really hard someday. I am coming to realize that the future I see that happening in will only arrive when I say it does. I hope for the courage to call it.
Finding comfort in living for the future by sacrificing today is a ridiculous notion too easy to adopt as noble by popular example in spite of the huge evidence contradicting it. I mean, does it really make sense to burn up every hour of the days we are assured of living (i.e. today) to build up our retirement accounts and investment portfolios to raid on days that we might get to live through, only if we are astute enough to recognize them before they become regrets (i.e. yesterday)?
Does it make sense to take out a huge mortgage to live in a gorgeous house that I never get to enjoy because I’m always under the gun to earn enough to pay for it? It contradicts every ideal we can conjure of true happiness. The best place to relax is at the dinner table with family and friends, and the next best place is in the shade of an aspen next to a mountain stream. Lying back in a reclining theater seat alone in front of a big screen in the media room of a 15,000-square-foot lifestyle estate is way down the list.
Yes, I can ski (or bike, run, climb, golf, train or even work) every available day and earn a pin for the effort, but when that becomes my identity and there is no way I cannot do it without becoming irritated or feeling unsettled, then I lose the freedom to explore everything else in life. We fear addiction to alcohol and drugs, but we seek addiction to recreation and activities as a refuge or sign of superiority.
Train through the pain. Sacrifice time with family and friends to do your thing; they’ll understand — it’s who you are! Achieve your goals, your personal bests. Set an example. Be all you can be by devoting all your time to yourself, because that’s what it takes to be … what?
Believe me, I’m not condemning. I’m warning, as I have been there myself. What am I saying? I still get sucked into it, almost every single day. My only salvation is having been to the bottom of the deep end of self-indulgence and recognize the familiar popping in my ears as a sign that I’m going too deep, again.
There are things of the Earth and things of the soul. The things we do that belong to the soul are those that bring a real smile and genuine happiness to others, and then to us because of that. The only thing that survives this life is love. You can’t love or be loved without others being important. There are no others of importance, if we let ourselves be immersed in the material world.
The person who wrote the quotable paragraph I began this column with also observed this:
“It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.”
By these words you maybe able to guess who both quotes belong to. Are they carefully chosen and crafted for political gain, or are they astute commentary on the state of human life on our planet? You can decide for yourself what Pope Francis’ motive is in placing them in the public domain. But, I doubt anyone can refute them and render them meaningless.
Roger Marolt likes Pope culture. email@example.com