The choices of a lifetime
MAKE ROOM FOR THE PAST
“The past is a world,” observed philosopher Thomas Carlyle. For wisdom seekers, engaging that world is non-negotiable. If wisdom is in scarce supply, one problem could be our media, seducing us with an ever-shifting present. Technology replaced the slowly absorbed book with the lightning-fast image. Our attention is gripped by what’s happening now, then distracted by the pop-up, diverted once more by a text, tweet, e-mail, or snap. It’s increasingly difficult to live in a single moment, when the now is continually supplanted by the next. So how do we make room for the past?
Journalist Bill Moyers admitted his profession created a society of “agitated amnesiacs.” We’re saturated with facts about the last few hours but know little of the last few centuries. Furthermore, we can’t integrate these pellets of information into a meaningful whole. They just keep coming at us, like video game opponents that must be dispelled before we’re overwhelmed.
All of this hurts our capacity for discernment. As Neil Postman says in Amusing Ourselves to Death, the modern media onslaught is rendering us all unfit to remember anything. We shower daily in the deluge of images and facts, only to displace them tomorrow with the next shower. What’s missing is that past-world anchor, what the church calls our sacred story. Each of us needs to take time each day, each week, each month to find our way back to the story that tells us who we are, what life is for, what to value, and how to choose.
reprinted with permission from TrueQuest Communications
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