Tuesday, November 17, 2009
An anecdote that I read years ago in the Catholic Register goes like this: Satan was making a grand plan to deceive humanity so he gathered all his troops and asked them: What lie shall we tell the world to fall into our traps. One of the little devils came to him and said: Tell them there is no God! Satan thought and answered him: This is not hard - Every thoughtful person knows that there is God. Another devil came to him and said: Tell them there is no right or wrong! Satan thought a little and answered him: But everyone who goes back to his conscience knows that there is indeed right and wrong - It depends on what you make of it. A third devil jumped up and down and said: I found it - Tell them there is time! There is ample time to do as you please. And Satan praised this devil for he found the lie that people would fall for... This lie is particularly widespread in our world today. Let me count a few examples: 1. Advances in medicine have made it possible for humans to live longer than they lived 50 years ago. The average life expectancy is between 80 and 85 years, when 50 years ago it was 60! 2. Today's technology has allowed us to have fun all the time when we can have fun. If not TV, then internet. If not internet, then iphones. If not iphones then facebook. We do not need to bother with visiting friends if we can "text" them our messages or email them. In fact, our kids are more used now to playing electronic games individually rather than playing soccer in teams. Individualism is the rule of a digital society. In fact so pervasive digital technology is today that Alan Kirby of Oxford considers postmodernism to be already dead (Digimodernism, 2009). Digimodernism requires a lecture by itself to analyze the trend in "global" culture. 3. We have no time for each other, although the lie says that we have time! Parents know that it is very hard for them to be together more than one hour everyday, and probably not everyday. Both work and come home late. When parents come home they come to their chores whether cooking, doing laundry, or home-repairs. Meanwhile their children, if there is any, are left since the morning with strangers and are left at home with computers that run violent games. Everyone is busy. And funtime is being choked - If it exists, it is mainly using technological gadgets. 4. Our youth are the most vulnerable and confused. Running between school/university and a new job that has no permanent status, they are divided. In many cases they are suffering loneliness from divorced/estranged parents or carrying too much debt from loans. They hardly find time to have fun. And when they want to have it they end up in night clubs. Some are on drugs or in intimate premarital sex only to find that they wasted their youth. Some get married if they have been blessed and the rest stay unmarried until they eventually wither. In this drama it is important to realize that with no or little offspring, there will hardly be any future generation particularly in Europe and North America. It is called the fertility dilemma! This is our life - our lie! We live a lie that we have time. However life can be extended it will still come to an end! In spite of the goodness we carry, we live a lie that we can make our own life the way we want it, and we still do not understand that life is more than pleasure and more than survival. We live a lie that the most important person in my life is an individual, me. We live a lie that our children can be educated on their own through the new technology - the least calculation is done today by the calculator, handy on computer, rather than through human memory. With the availability of so many things today, we have come to be a bit lazy or probably too tired! Why cook if we can order food? Why sew if we can buy cloth? Why go to work if we can work from home? The digital technology has allowed us much material comfort. Yet we are psychologically too stressed. Although we have time, we are so busy that we feel we have no time. There is hardly time for the family together. There is hardly time for prayer. There is hardly time for God! On the subway, people are either talking on the cell, playing games by themselves, reading a newspaper, or asleep. The little time we have for ourselves is misused. Has Satan succeeded in seducing us, or some of us? Do we really have time? What kind of time? This is a phenomenon about how matter influences the mind and spirit. Eight centuries ago Thomas Aquinas wrote that the proper hierarchy follows from the spirit leading the mind and the mind leading the body senses. He did not know much medicine but his ideas opened the horizon for man to explore natural sciences, and discover the universe in his body and outside of his body. This Angelic Doctor of the Church developed the synthesis between nature and man. If man is to live, he needs to give priority to the spirit without abandoning the needs of the body. Time is not lost if we live it the way it should be lived - the way of true love in the spirit which is the Spirit of Christ. Long ago, our ancestors were wiser for they knew that life is meant to be eternal, and for it to be eternal they listened and clinged to the Master who said "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14: 6). The question to this generation is what John the Baptist put to the Jews of his time "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance" (Matthew 3: 7, 8). Will we heed the call?