Monday, September 13, 2021

But do we learn?

One of the greatest shocks that we experience in our childhood comes with the discovery that our deeds and desires are not always approved by our fellow men, that the world is not mere food for our delight. The resistance we encounter, the refusals we meet with, open our eyes to the existence of a world outside ourselves. But, growing older and stronger, we gradually recover from that shock, forget its dolorous lesson, and apply most of our ingenuity to enforcing our will on nature and men. No recollection of our past experience is capable of upsetting the arrogance that guides the traffic in our mind. Dazzled by the brilliant achievements of the intellect in science and technique, we have been deluded into believing that we are the masters of the earth and our will the ultimate judge of what is right and wrong. However, the universe is not a waif and life is not a derelict. Man is neither the lord of the universe nor even the master of his own destiny. Our life is not our own property but a possession of God. And it is this divine ownership that makes life a sacred thing.

The world that we have long considered to be ours has exploded in our hands, and a stream of guilt and misery has been unloosed, which leaves no conscience unblemished. Will this flood of wretchedness sweep away our monstrous conceit? Will we comprehend that the sense for the sacred is as vital to us as the light of the sun? The enjoyment of beauty, possession, and safety in civilized society depends on man's sense for the sacredness of life, on his reverence for this spark of light in the darkness of selfishness. Permit this spark to be quenched and the darkness falls upon us like thunder.

<idle musing>
This was written in 1944. How much greater is its relevance now, with the world either burning in drought or drowning in hurricanes and floods—all because of the arrogance of humanity&or perhaps it would be better to say the arrogance of man, because in this case it usually is men. But be that as it may, we are most decidedly not the masters of our destiny. We play at being gods, but the wind that we have sown becomes a whirlwind that we are reaping now.

And it's not just in climate, either. We are reaping the whirlwind of the wind that we have sown in the political realm, in the social realm, and in the medical realm. All our utopias have been shown to be dystopias. And yet we resist turning to the source of life—God.

After all, acknowledging God might mean that we aren't gods and we aren't masters of our destiny. And he might require us to do something we don't want to do! As if we've done such a good job of things on our own!

But what if God isn't the ogre that you think he is? What if he is a forgiving parent? What if, instead of a rod, he has a banquet? What if...
</idle musing>

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