Our Extraordinary Times

Jul 8, 2017

Commentary: Many people don’t realize it yet, but we are living in one of the most extraordinary times in human history. It may not seem that way during our weekly drudgery of going to work or school and our daily struggles to make financial ends meet. But if we pay attention, we’ll quickly notice signs all around us that something extraordinary and life changing is going on. Simply put, the fundamental structure of our very lives is being altered. Some of these changes can be seen as good, some as bad, and many of them as deeply transformative.

When you boil things down, our lives consist basically of earning a living, finding time to relax and enjoy something, finding ways to relate to each other, and finding a purpose to all this beyond the mundane. All of these fundamental aspects of life are being rapidly changed and redefined with or without our participation or permission.

Earning a living has changed a great deal over the last few years. Many jobs in America have disappeared completely, and many others offer less pay and fewer benefits than before. Long term employment in a single job has pretty much disappeared unless you work for education or government. Robotization is stealing jobs at a rapid rate and transforming countless businesses and professions. This creates radical changes in how we are now and will be earning a living. And earning a living is money and money is the key to so much in our lives.

Each of us finds enjoyment in different things and in different ways. Many people find solace in entertainment such as music, television, movies, and pro sports. Music is constantly evolving into new and different forms. Television and movies are produced by an industry that has at its heart the primary desire to make money for themselves and to sell us the public on certain ideas or beliefs. The entertainment industry is essentially a transfer of funds from your pocket to theirs, and a vehicle for them to plant seeds of some belief they want you to adopt. Both of these can be dangerous things not in your best interest. Professional sports has become an over glorified part of the social landscape where ungodly sums of money are being made by athletes and team owners and with little societal benefit. The glorification of sports has gotten to an unhealthy level for many fans. All of these things that supposedly exist to give one a break from real life have in fact become part of the problems in real life that we were trying to get away from.

People used to gather face to face in groups of flesh and blood human beings. Now, more and more of our interactions are being done by means of small electronic boxes that send images or written messages at small or great distances from each other. Even when we humans are physically together, much of this time is spent looking down with blank looks on our faces at those small electronic boxes that we clutch in our hands as if we’re holding the treasures of the ancient Pharaohs. More and more people now prefer electronic contact over actual human contact. The very nature of our own humanity has been changed in just ten years into ways we don’t even grasp yet.

For thousands of years, most people have found purpose in life in some form of organized religion or belief. But what speaks to one age may not speak to another. Many people no longer find spiritual peace or guidance in organized religion, while others have been disillusioned by several well publicized sex or money scandals found in high church places. We can still learn much from the holy books and other great spiritual traditions of the world. But our spiritual answers in the future may come from places we have not yet considered or ideas not yet expressed anywhere in print. Spiritual insights are not reserved just to be found by others from the distant past but can be found and learned in our own living present and personal experience of life today and tomorrow. All you need to do is listen to what your inner voice that is being drowned out by all the distractions is trying to tell you. And even though science and technology is being heavily touted as the answer to all our problems, these have fatal limiting flaws that will always prevent these from ever being the answers to our deepest questions.

We know that change is always going to come. It always has, and it always will. But shouldn’t change result in something better? When change comes and life is somehow lesser than what it was, then our direction is clearly going the wrong way. And going backwards is not the way to approach a complex and uncharted future.

Yes, these are exciting, extraordinary, and somewhat troubling times. If there are to be any history books in the future, they will most certainly have much to say about how we got here and how we responded to all these challenges.

Change is knocking at our door. Old answers are going away or won’t work anymore. No single answer will work out for everyone. And no one else can find the right answers for you. But change is still knocking at your door and waiting for your response. What will your answer be?