In a recent post mariner cited many daily tasks that, in earlier times, were not automated as they are today; the reader may remember the reference to darning socks. These tasks took time, sometimes inordinate time, just to accomplish a day in one’s life. In the post, it was relatively easy to speculate on the differences in the industrial world and in daily materialism expedited by technology. What is more important both to self and to society is what twenty-first century speed has done to core values like religion and cultural ethos.
For Christians and sophists, has the reader ever read the Holy Bible cover to cover? If so, the reader is a rare individual. How long has it been since a Book in the Bible has been reread or a thread of parables has been revisited?
Do not chastise one’s self. It is how one must live in a time when the number of daily decisions and events is continuous compared to the recent life even of one’s parents. Further, via the Internet and satellite technology, today one’s decisions virtually affect many more lives and many more circumstances and immediately influence an entire world’s knowledge of reality. Simply turning on a television launches the marketing world into action.
It is hard to imagine a life when large amounts of daily time passed and there were no conversations, no interactive decisions and no interaction with society. It wasn’t so long ago; it was the life of a significant number of folks just seventy years ago. There was both time and need to belong to simple gatherings with people one didn’t see every day; the church picnic was an important event; specialized clubs existed to expand interests and share experiences: stamp club, coin club, knitting club, garden club, etc. There were service organizations like the Lions, the Masons and the Shriners.
True, many of these organizations still exist. However, in the past these groups were the main event in socialization, politics and religion – not to mention friendship, courtship and extended family visits during the holidays. Reunions were a central event. All these interactive examples suffer today. Church attendance has fallen mightily; the club phenomenon has been replaced by social media; special interests have moved from clubs to search engines. Vacant time that once was used for the chores of daily life has been replaced by time with the television, the Internet and the smartphone. Who needs to have actual face time with other people? There just isn’t time. Easier to turn on Facebook.
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What has this fast world done to one’s personal religion? Religion is the place where one becomes a member of the universe; it is an internal, personal experience that comes from believing not in the transactional world of electronics but in a world driven by love, emotion, compassion and respect for all that exists. It is the one true experience that makes one feel valuable in spite of worldly circumstances or a dead device battery.
There are many visions about religion and there are many religions. How does one truncate these beliefs into a straightforward, functional, brief but important part of the fast world?
As noted, public ritual, clubs and gatherings are not as central to society as they were in the earlier years of the last century. Yet these persons-to-persons activities are necessary for a wholesome life. Thumb punching and finger scrolling may be a successful distraction that does not require management of ethos, ethics, human bonding or even civility but most of the human brain exists to interpret meaningful and rewarding relationships – not with video games but with other humans.
If one were able to throw all the virtues of modern religions into a kettle and boil them down to a hearty stock, it likely would be rich in compassion. Compassion is the opposite of identity politics and tribalism. On the ground in everyday life, the current political, belligerent experience is caustic; prejudice breeds prejudice; fragmentation breeds elitism, racism and school shootings. It seems conflict is not a creative force.
Everyone knows that populism is strictly a destructive force. Its objective is to disrupt, damage and even destroy a conflicted social situation. But it is not populism’s job to restore. Populism exists purely in a transactional world, i.e., tit for tat, my way or the highway, this way only, dissidents are useless criminals (“Lock her up!”).
The prescription for curing transactional conflict is to make unity the first value. Unity is a religion word. Society’s job today is to uncover and elevate what is common among even the most contraposed individuals or groups. An individual human creature cannot be separated from eons of planetary life and environment. Humans are humans living the same reality, sharing the same three dimensions, sharing the same universe-given resources.
Even in unity’s simplest form, courtesy, one can sense personal comfort – that an individual has the confidence, perspective and commitment to be courteous even in the midst of consternation. Unity is a religion word.
Pass it forward.