Our generation has come into the world with quite an inheritance. Technology, information and science are catapulting forward the way human beings interact with their environment. We whiz about the electronic universe on our iPhone while hurtling down the highway at 85 miles an hour to make it to our college class where we stop for an hour to listen to a lecture about the indigenous Kung Bushmen from Africa who snort green powder up their nose as a form of hallucinogenic. We leave class and use GPS to navigate over to the new Thai restaurant where we get to eat the same dish as an indigenous Southeast Asian peasant, thousands of miles away.
The glow of the computer screen irradiates our pale faces as we spend hours and hours fashioning our own personal web pages where we carve out our own electronic self-image. The ability to add or delete a “friend” at the click of a button gives us a delightful sense of omnipotence. Yawning at our iPad, we pack it up, scoot back our chair, grab our rolled-up purple yoga mat from the closet, and shuttle off to an hour long session of authentic Hindu exercises that they claim will make all the energy in our body flow in the same direction. That’s a good thing, right? And if we happen to get stuck in traffic on the way, we can pop in our “Enlightenment for Dummies” DVD we just bought for $5 at the checkout stand in the grocery store.
We’ve seen it all, we’ve heard it all, we’ve done just about all of it… now what? If we human beings can scan the vastness of space and probe the depths of the ocean, why are we at such a loss for words when we attempt to have a deep conversation with the person sitting right next to us. Or what about having one with our parents? But who would want to do that? What do they know, anyway? They’re the ones who got us into this mess in the first place.
But maybe we some of us can have “deep” conversations with our friends. Maybe we’re those who stay up all night sitting at a booth in Denny’s, pondering the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything. Maybe we’re those coffee shop revolutionaries who can smoke a joint and wax philosophical for a while, while the cigarette burns down between our fingertips, solving all the world’s problems while sucking down a fake vanilla milkshake. Like the shake, are these long, fruitless discussions the food our souls really need? Is this “deep” discussion equivalent to love and true friendship?
Many cultures throughout history have acknowledged the need for brotherly love and devotion to family. Two men would slice into their palms with a knife and link their hands together as a covenant of brotherhood, a sign of linked fates. “What happens to you happens to me. No matter what we have to go through, we’re going to be together.” Isn’t this simple, priceless friendship worth infinitely more than the lofty claims of enlightenment and self-realization that bounce around the new age airwaves?
Marriage takes a stab at true devotion, but in this day of rampant independence and selfishness, hardly anyone understands what it really means to make a covenant. Are these last generations losing the character it takes to be committed? Is the selfishness so deep and integrity so lacking that relationships can only be based on what we are getting out of them in the moment? Do we realize the accountability we bear in treating our human relationships as disposable? Do we realize that our passing pleasures have eternal consequences? A wise man once said “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul?”
We like to sing SONGS about love, write POEMS about enlightenment, watch MOVIES about revolution, read BOOKS about people of substance who overcome all odds. But we don’t so much like paying the high cost of true LOVE, or the self-judgment necessary for true ENLIGHTENMENT, or the self-sacrifice it takes to bring about a REVOLUTION, or the suffering necessary to be people of CHARACTER?
Most of us are content to sit back and let the characters in our movies or books act out life for us, while we stay comfortable in our air-conditioned houses and chew on organic baby carrots. But if not that, then what are our options, really? Do we really see anything worth giving all of our strength and loyalty to?
In our efforts to escape the futility of life we get our friends together and smoke ourselves into a little stupor and cynically joke about anything containing even a notion of sincerity. Or we can try to ignore the quiet desperation in our soul and buy into the system and apply ourselves to four or five years of college, and forty years of a “good job” hoping that somehow we’ll be "happy", and if not happy, at least secure.
Or we may try to deceive ourselves into thinking this measly little job at the drugstore won’t last forever. “One day my art will take me somewhere; one day people will recognize my talent, they’ll give me money, and life will be better after that, after I’m hired at the circus, or signed to a record label, or whatever...”
In the meantime, however, I’ll at least do my best to seem very lofty and mysterious, so that my friends will all look up to me. Or I’ll just go along with society and take comfort in my religion or AA meetings to get me by until I go to Heaven or whatever happens after this life...
But the undeniable truth, buried beneath all the glitz and all the religion and all of the boasts of “higher learning,” is that there is a flaw in the foundation of society as we know it. The human race is set on a course that is unable to be sustained. Human beings are operating outside of the boundaries given to them, boundaries that all of nature functions within. Instinctive truths have been suppressed or discarded altogether, and we will not find any rest until what has been lost is restored.