All of the flapdoodle, hooey, bunkum, and hunting of snipe aside, what are we worried about?
Are we concerned about politics?
Relax. No human institution is perfect, and you may safely disregard politicians and preachers who declare the USA to be Divinely Ordained or Irredeemably Doomed. (Any who insist on thinking thusly are hereby sentenced to reading the entire and unabridged edition of St. Augustine’s The City of God.)
Are you worried about natural disasters? Don’t fret. If the hurricane don’t get ya, the earthquake will, if the earthquake don’t get ya, the cholera must. (And God always has a few “dinosaur-killer” asteroids in reserve.)
Frightened by what’s coming over the Nightly News or your favorite 24/7 Niche Culture channel? TURN THE DAMN THING OFF!!! (And I do not employ the word frivolously. At best the mass media is a collective of nasty-minded gossips. At its usual, it is a semi-organized association of emotional pimps and panderers who make a fine living off other peoples distress.)
REAL problems should be addressed, dealt with, and resolved. Most of what comes over the cable, satellite, or internet is a cocktail of artificially contrived nonsense which is never meant to be finished, because then those cards and letters and donations will cease flooding in.
It’s literally The Big Con.
If you deliberately do without “news” or “edutanment” or “commentary” for a week (all forms, TV, Internet, gossip at the coffee shop), there will surely be withdrawal symptoms. Sweaty palms, nervous tics, an almost irresistible desire to have just one little peek… Congratulations, you are addicted to Media Porn. Lust, envy, greed, drunkenness are relatively minor sins compared to the burden on the soul of an incessant snoop. But if you persevere, there is Light ahead.
You will feel/think/pray better. You will not be constantly under the clouds of malaise, but living in the sunshine.
Here’s the thing. We are not guaranteed a carefree, prosperous life. Other than a few dubious TV preachers or Utopian dreamers, nobody is dumb enough to promote such a blatant lie. Whether one is a theist or not, you are guaranteed dungeon, fire, and sword. If you are followers of Christ, you are guaranteed the same things Jesus received: scorn, persecution, ridicule, poverty, abandonment, and an ignominious death. Cool!
(I am familiar with Christianity, and am not qualified to speak of other faiths, but from the outside, they appear to have similar attitudes.)
Butler’s Lives of the Saints is a good, sobering read. Here
Not only will we not make it out of this world “alive”, neither will any of us live in this world forever.
The world cycles. Things change. The Great Pendulum of History swings back and forth without ceasing. All attempts to speed up its travel or to freeze it at a particular moment of time end in failure and destruction for those who make the attempt. In point of fact, a reading of History is salubrious for illusions of success or permanent devastation.
Pick any hundred year period and see how vain ambition, discontent, anger, and greed wrecked so much, so many lives, and then wonder if today is really so different. The names of those people in the past are unfamiliar, even the major actors. For the most part, their vaunted legacy has been erased, and they and their events are known only to specialists.
Or, read Dante’s little fantasy about his guided tour of Hell in The Inferno. But be sure to get a good annotated edition so you can identify all those folk. I dare say 99% of us could care less for all the passions of Guelf and Ghibelline in the Florentine Republic. And so it will be someday for our extreme gnashing of teeth today.
We have, unfortunately, been lulled into a false sense of entitlement by a century of good weather, a time of peace and progress. We thought Happy Days were not only here again, but would go on forever.
Ozymandias By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) I met a traveller from an antique land, Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Not to worry. Every last thing of this Earth will be gone someday. On the time-scale of the Universe, whatever disturbs you is less than the blink of an eye.
The truly important things, Faith, Hope, Charity, are Eternal.
Here in the third decade of the 21st Century Anno Domini, we are beginning to learn what is ephemeral and what really matters.
But we have a very long way to go…