The paradox of our time in history is that
We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers;
Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but have less.
We buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families;
More conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense;
More knowledge, but less judgment;
More experts, but more problems;
More medicine, but less wellness.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life.
We've added years to life, not life to years.
We've been all the way to the moon and back,
But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We've conquered outer space, but not inner space.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
We've split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We have higher incomes, but lower morals.
We've become long on quantity, but short on quality.
Summarizing the words from the article, the writer divides historical time into the ancient age, the middle ages, and the present age, with a definite pattern of thinking and acting in each one of these time periods. The focus, he says, during each of these periods was always on attaining a better understanding of truth, goodness and beauty.
The ancients inquired, with their philosophies, about the universe and the laws of nature. During the middle ages, inquiry swung to the study of metaphysics and, with God the center of interest, sought to prove the existence of the God they couldn't see. Learning was principally occupied with theology, philosophy, law and medicine.
The influences on society have been many, including more emphasis on individualism, pluralism, multiculturalism, relativism. Traditional concerns on what's important in life have been left behind, replaced with an interest in originality and individualism. Much has improved, with our knowledge greatly expanded, the writer admits, but more has been lost, he says, when the clear distinctions between goodness and evil, justice and injustice are no longer being made. It does require more vigilance on our part, he cautions, as we seek guidance on how to live our lives.
With this type of thinking, he believes everything can be true or untrue. In the past the search for "Being" was at the center of the search for truth; today the search has shifted to "Existence." The author uses the words of Benedict, the last pope, while still a professor in Germany, to emphasize the importance of understanding the dangers of relativism: "In the middle ages all being was true, but modern thinking has changed this to all we make is true, and this will be changed to whatever we will make is true."