Finding Meaning

If you only ever read the Bible, what’s your understanding of the world and your place in it?

If you only ever watch Jerry Springer, what are your beliefs about fidelity and commitment?

If you only ever watch Oprah, what are your standards for volunteerism and charity?

If you only ever attend business school, how do you manage employees?

The books we read, the TV we watch, the places we go, and the subjects we study allow us to filter the world. With the barrage of information coming at us today, we can’t survive without filters. What happens when those filters are too narrow? If you’ve studied the Bible, read the Western canon, and taken survey courses in most of the major Liberal Arts disciplines, then you probably have a fairly strong sense of your place in the world. At the very least, you see your studies reflected in the movies, television, and advertisements that you encounter every day. Chances are, you see very little that’s new.

Imagine that you don’t have this background. When you listen to recorded music downloaded from the Internet, view TV shows beamed from the sky, and watch movies on a handheld device that doubles as a gaming system, when do you have time to think about the nature of the world and your place in it? After all, everything’s so new. All the messages, the media, the technology, the gadgets. You spend all your time chasing and no time thinking. When you’re confronted with a situation that tests your attitudes and beliefs, you default to what you’ve seen in your environment. What would Jesus do? What would Oprah do? What would Peter Drucker do? What would Earl do?

There’s no time to go see a soloist because you have to rebuild the iPod you just replaced. There’s no time to volunteer because you have to go to a breast cancer walk. There’s no time to read a book because you have to watch the TV show that you recorded last night. There’s no time to reflect on the world and your place in it because you’re too busy living. How are our kids ever going to find purpose in a world like this?




Filed under The way the world works

2 responses to “Finding Meaning

  1. It is definitely harder to find true purpose or insight in this so-called advanced age. I fear people are embracing complacency, ignorance, or dogmatism far too often.

    Thinking takes work, and many people have come to shy away from work. Why not, when electronics have made mental work so optional?

    I find hope in the knowledge that those who want to think and want to find purpose will put in the efforts to be able to achieve it.

  2. What’s going to happen to our society if we leave thinking to the thinkers? What happens when people expect to find meaning in a six-pack or a six-figure salary? I’m not wishing for a nation of introspectives, because I think we need stronger bonds to each other and our communities. Our culture has been cooling off for some time in terms of social bonds. I fear that our advances in technology will only speed up this cooling. So we’ll be a nation of people each in our own little mass customized worlds without knowing how to think for ourselves.

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