The cares of this life

By Archbishop Stylianos of Australia

"No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday cares;
the soldier's aim is to please the enlisting officer" (2 Tim 2:4)

So-called 'globalisation', a phenomenon that is almost a twin of modern technology which allows the most incredible possibilities for communication, is not mainly political, strategic or economic in nature. In spite of the fact that globalisation equally affects all three mentioned secular interests (political, strategic and social), it seems that what is most at risk by the constantly developing 'communications' is above all the purely 'spiritual nature' of man; in other words, the human soul itself!

Without anyone being anachronistic or an enemy of progress in general, or rejecting the obvious socio-economic or even 'cultural' prospects that 'communications' and 'information 'technology' now open up, we must admit that these new possibilities 'cut us off' (unconsciously and perhaps inevitably) from certain other possibilities which were always sources of unquestioned spiritual renewal.

We could say, without being alarmist, that whoever is directly 'entangled' with the enterprising and technological aspects of 'communications' these days, automatically becomes a small 'technocrat'. And worse still, he or she is increasingly deprived of the privilege of 'freedom' and 'choice', while becoming almost a cog in a purely mechanical wheel.

In spite of all the publicity about the convenience the internet provides you to conduct a host of 'transactions' in minimal time, without even leaving your seat, the result of this 'progress' is essentially a great deal of loneliness! This is because loneliness is of course the distance from being with others in person. One can certainly 'deal' in a thousand issues with unknown people in any part of the world today, however the personal immediacy, the trust built by familiarity, the joy of unselfish friendship and the like, have now become for many a mere 'romantic' memory.

Meanings and experiences that we had up until just a few decades ago, which were fundamental characteristics of the mature and perceptive person, such as 'recollection', 'concentration', 'contemplation', 'reverently gazing' at the uniqueness of the moment, 'prayer' and so on, tend to be replaced unwittingly by the single concern for what is practical. Just as the term 'development' in its international usage has come to signify predominantly, if not exclusively, only 'economic' prosperity. As if people only have material needs and desires!

However in this way we continually experience a muddled situation which covers everything like mist, in which 'things', 'merchandise' and 'measurements' are about to depersonalise human life.

Whatever happened to the human person and face that enchanted us even from our childhood years that of the parent, the brother, the friend, the teacher, the companion, and of our loved ones in general?

What happened to the 'enlisting officer' who we 'aim to please'? It does not matter if we are speaking about God incarnate and His will, about whom St Paul writes in his letter to Timothy. It also has to do with any fellow human being who is 'deified' by our love; the kind of love that does not allow the other to be a mere mortal any longer.

With a touch of both sarcasm and pain, a modern poet expresses the crisis that the human person is undergoing, while drowning in 'things', 'machines', 'numbers', 'systems', 'symbols' and so on:

"…there are no longer persons
only lines of argument" (P. Kapetanakis)

Let us hope that, once man is satisfied with his vain wonderings and his mechanised footsteps amidst the fluctuations and 'objects' of the present, he will remember once again and long for the eternal sources of life which continually rise up from among mortal persons, and which uphold his own immortality: a glance, a verse, a melody, a landscape touched by the 'presence' of our fellow human being!

from Voice of Orthodoxy, v. 25(10), October 2003
the official publication of the Greek Orthodox Archbiocese of Australia

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