“Western culture, he seemed to think, had gone “off the rails” sometime in the past several hundred years. And if you ask the question, “Why did the first half of the twentieth century produce within fifty years two world wars, three totalitarian systems, oceans of blood, mountains of corpses?” Wojtyła’s answer to that was: It’s because our idea of the human person, our idea of the innate dignity and value of the human person has gotten lost.”
George Weigel, Witness to Hope – The Life of John Paul II
I’m amazed that my internal commute-induced commentary (the running monologue that accompanied me along the freeway on my way to work this morning) has just been confirmed by this quote. I’m watching a documentary about Pope John Paul II, and just as the chronological biography got to the point of the Second Vatican Council, the author — whose book is the basis for the movie I’m watching — made this statement. As I was driving to work this morning, hearing heart-rending news reports, I contemplated the human condition.
Yeah, it wasn’t exactly a bright & cheery morning for me. I read a couple articles online, talking about the situation in New York City in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Residents are struggling to recover from this natural disaster, and many are afraid to go outside after dark, as there are unsavory characters wandering the streets. I’ve thought about the mind-blowing (to me, anyway) increase in this type of behavior all around the world. And its not limited to scenarios of gangs and ghettos, but all over. Even on the highway, drivers refuse to yield to merging traffic, some driving along on the berm of the freeway so they can get closer to their destination first. The “Me” generation, recognizing the individual, has been succeeded by a distorted version, where individuals exaggerate their own importance and in doing so belittle everyone else. My morning musing was much more eloquent than this, but alas – the rigors of a challenging workday have taken their toll.
I am saddened by the scene around me, and I’m praying that something or someone will bring about a change. I am doing what I can within my own environment, which is about all I can do. I’m holding fast to song lyrics that struck a wonderful chord in my heart this past spring. A Christian group called Newworldson inspires beautifully in “Learning to Be the Light”:
When a heart is cold as ice
You can’t melt it with advice.
No one wants to listen to
A list of things they shouldn’t do.
So I build a city on a hill,
And I light a candle on the sill,
Knowing you’ll be always knocking at the door.
Oh God, I just want to love on everyone
All I have is yours to give – so let the people come!
And now I am tired. I’ll knit for a bit more, as I’m making slow but steady progress on the month’s goals…I even cast on a pair of socks last night! So much more to do before I sleep. I’ll watch some television and, as usual… Knit on.