Monday, September 16, 2013

A New Way to Live

Simplicity is a word that usually has positive overtones, especially in our hectic society where many have the desire to leave behind the hustle, artificiality and competition and return to a more natural lifestyle. We see this tendency in the return to the farms and occasional trips to the countryside by city dwellers. Many think the talk about simplicity is  excessive, that the desire to distance ourselves from a modern technological society is unintelligible, and yet the voices of those who speak about this need is growing, and not without reason, says a columnist on the opinion page of the  Catholic Times.
He reflects on John 1-4:  "Whatever came to be in him found life, life for the light of men," after reading a sign at a construction site: "We are sorry for the inconvenience but everything will be returned shortly to as it was." The last words "as it was" kept spinning around in his head. Yes, material things can be replaced, he says, but not the life that has been destroyed.

In Genesis 1:28, we read: "Have dominion over...all living things that move on the earth." These words are meant for us to take care of life and not to destroy it. Pope Benedict, in his peace message of 2010, used as the theme of the message: "If You  Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation." However, the columnist believes we are not sufficiently sensitive to the natural world  to see the value of all life. In our headlong pursuit of economic development we very easily destroy life, forgetting what the geoscientists tell us. When the butterflies and bees disappear from the earth, humanity also will cease to exist.

If this is true of the small forms of life, how much more will this be true of human life? he asks. At present, the biggest cause of death of those under forty is suicide. Korea is a country that is driving its citizens to kill themselves, he says, as it inadvertently creates a culture of death. One reason for this situation is the extraordinary educational demands of the country and the economic structures that have been built. How many more have to die before something is done? he asks. Have we become a world that worships money?

He remembers reading the words of an American Indian that made a big impression  on him. "When the last tree dies, the last river polluted, the last fish caught; we will know we can't live by eating money."

What are we to do? he asks at the conclusion of the column. Change the way we live, he answers. Be content with less and with a little more discomfort. We have to cut back on our eating, our clothing and the homes we build. We have to learn that with less we can have more satisfaction and live happier lives. During this month dedicated to the martyrs would be a good time, he says, to take the first steps in this new way of living.

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