Wednesday , April 25, 2012 - 2:51 PM
Have you had it up to here with the modern world? Heard enough about rampant, random killings that happen all too frequently when another disturbed person flips out and starts shooting? Have you heard enough of sex scandals, political scandals, drug cartel massacres, money scandals, "occupier" antics, and heroes who fall from grace? Heard more than you'd ever want to know about the drug induced deaths of celebrities?
Don't we become a bit "wooden" and desensitized from being bombarded with reports of evil doings? Clearly the answer is yes! And we should because we can feel overwhelmed and helpless to change things. We seem to be locked into a roller-coaster ride that we can't escape from. A famous American shared similar feelings some 180 years ago; he was Henry David Thoreau, a natural philosopher who escaped to Walden Pond to revive his spirit. Thoreau lived in pre-Industrial Revolution America and was focused on preserving natural beauty. He was also a protester of the "poll tax," and an abolitionist.
On emerging from his hiatus at Walden Pond where he'd had time to reflect in solitude on the meaning of life, he returned home renewed. He spoke of a remarkable image, that of a "beautiful bug" which had emerged from a dry leaf of an old table of apple-tree wood. The table was at least 60 years old and the bug had been hatched from an egg deposited many years earlier in the living tree. He saw this as analogous to man's need to emerge from the "dead dry life" of society.
We might see the emergence of the "beautiful bug" as a symbol of the spirit that lies beneath the encrustations of our everyday existence; that capacity that lies within us, a spirit that is like a tulip bulb in winter; not dead, but merely sleeping, to be awakened at the right time. The question is, what does it take to awaken that spirit in us?
If Thoreau were alive today he would have a cornucopia of causes to retreat from. Today, retreat may not be the answer in dealing with our complex world. Instead of physically retreating, we might try a figurative approach by convincing ourselves with positive affirmations that there are answers. Instead of dealing with the physical challenges of living alone in the woods as Thoreau did, we will need to deal with the mental and psychological challenges of a troubled society and find ways to cope. You may have been advised as I was in my youth, that you can't run away from trouble and bad people; you are wiser to insulate, not isolate yourself from trouble. It is also wise not to "swim out to meet the Titanic" or flirt with disaster.
If you look at where people have often turned for help in difficult times, you'll find it is the same source, the spirit of God the Father. Not surprisingly there is good reason. When we awaken our spirit we free immense powers within ourselves and we connect to unseen powers that allow us to overcome the greatest challenges imaginable.
This power of belief in ourselves and of a power greater than ourselves can be seen as the "beautiful bug" that emerged from long dead wood. We can emerge from the woodenness of our society and go about creating a better world now and for future generations.
An excellent first step toward insulating yourself against that which makes us wooden is recognizing what we have become. A question to start with might be, "how critical is it that I be entertained most of my waking hours and what form of entertainment do I participate in?" And, "how important is it that I watch or listen to the news several times a day?" Other good questions are, "is watching that movie or that TV show really how I want to spend my time; am I uplifted by it?"
There are many more questions you might ask about how you are living today but you might want to start with something simple, something you can change, if you want to. You might want to exchange some of the hours spent being entertained electronically for some time spent simply contemplating or reading. And consider spending time building up your family and your community.
It has taken decades to allow our societal values to degenerate, it will take time to restore them; it will never happen unless we start.
Reynolds lives in Pleasant View. He is a retired businessman and member of the Kiwanis Club of North Ogden.