Despite the pursuit of the material and the role technology has in our lives, there’s still opportunity to find meaning in the modern world.
The Search for Treasure Reconsidered
Not in the moon and stars,
Nor in the glare of neon-lit marquee
But in a small, reclusive roadside scarlet pimpernel
That did not flash its ware ¯
It is there the treasure found.
Though you scan both earth and sky;
The search be far and wide and everywhere –
It is in the little roadside gem you find reflection
Of the riches that you bear.
Need solely seeing eye, not magic carpet, to get you there.
— John C. Wood
I begin this column with this small poem, of no great consequence in and of itself, because it relates, I believe, to an important, widespread and unfortunate aspect of present-day Western life — the quest for riches and reward in the exotic, the showy, the expensive items in the market place; equating value and reward to price.
The McMansion, a BMW curbside, each “on the hock,” a room at the Trump Tower, a Rolex on the wrist, a $100 bar bill preceding a $500 theater ticket charge, hallmarks of a good life and, in turn, a successful life.
Running in parallel, the virtual world with human interchange accomplished mainly by the good offices of the internet and very smart phones at the expense of more demanding, less efficient personal contact has hugely enlarged our database and reach, just as it has facilitated the disuse and atrophy of the art of conversation and letter writing.
It simply is impossible to put body language, so important in personal interchange, into a text message or email.
There is, of course, a recognition of ethics in the secular world, but few would fail to observe that as religion has been shelved to an important degree in our pall mall lives. So too have civility and morality been degraded. And this holds true at every level of society and throughout the Western world. I say, Western world, because that is where I hang my hat; and if we are to lead, it should be by example, not bombast; by dialogue, not diatribe.
But do not despair. There is still time to enjoy the fruits of the modern world, if we just stop a spell to see the dew drop on the wild rose and pay homage to that power greater than ourselves.
John C. Wood, the son of a Presbyterian minister, is a poet and retired cardiologist. From a Faith Perspective is a weekly column written by members of Lower Bucks faith communities.
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