At the funeral, which was in a Baptist church, the pastor comforted the congregation by telling them that this life is really a trial run for the after life. The days we spend in our corporal form are "pointless... a cruel joke" with "little meaning." He used the analogy of a dragonfly, which lives two lives, one in a larval stage as a nymph buried at the bottom of a slough (presumably analogous to our earthly stint) and the other as the aerobatic insect we're familiar with. He was a little shaky on his biology, but I got the point. I just don't happen to agree with it.
I have a significantly different view of things. I think the days we spend here, each and every one of them, are precious beyond compare. In fact, one of our company's core values enshrines this: "Each day is a gift." One of our staff added a fitting tag: "that's why we call it the present." If you believe in an afterlife, that's fine. But don't let that belief lift the burden from your shoulders of living each and every day to its fullest. It's all too easy to let each precious 24-hour parcel slip away, as we get caught up in the day-to-day.
I also don't believe our lives are pointless. Far from it. Our lives here are the whole point. At the start of each day, you're given the chance to make a difference, to improve the world just a little bit. In Canada, the average life span of a male at birth is 78.3 years. That means, if I hit the average, in my life I'll have 28, 579 chances to do something meaningful in my time here on earth. I've already used about two thirds of those chances with questionable outcomes, but statistically speaking, I still have a little over 10,000 in my account. That, I believe, is a number I should pay close attention to, because each day, that balance declines by one.
Further, I believe that at this point in history, we can do more with each and every day than we ever could before. One person, now more than ever, can mobilize a significant force almost instantly, thanks to technology. In last week's column, I introduced a moral dilemma: the use of social media in rounding up the Vancouver rioters. Were we participating in the campaign out of a sense of justice or a need for revenge? Did our motivation really matter? Many of you weighed in with your opinions, which split on both sides of the question.
I'm not going to reopen the question of whether it was right or wrong. What I wanted to focus on, in light of this week's topic, is the sheer velocity and power of the medium. Whether it was justice or revenge, the fact was that technology made the entire thing possible.
Technology puts tremendous potential power into the hands of every person, each and every day. It's our choice how we use that power. The fact that you are reading my thoughts and opinions right now, as I sit in my office in British Columbia and you're wherever you are, somewhere in the world, is thanks solely to technology. Without it, I wouldn't have the opportunity.
So, how do we use that power? How did you use technology today to make a difference? Does the fact that the five most popular Twitter users are, in order: Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, Britney Spears and Katy Perry worry you? Should it? Should we be concerned that the Dalai Lama's website is only the 122,444th most popular site in the world and to this point, he hasn't seen fit to tweet? Maybe it's because he only has a little over 2,000 followers. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian is getting close to top 1000 traffic status for her website (according to Alexa) and she's just after Katy Perry on the Twitter popularity scale with over 8 million followers. No offense to Ms. Kardashian, but I find it troubling that she has 4000 times the online audience of his Holiness.
The awesome reality is that this day, today, you and I have something no previous generation could possible imagine: access to the accumulated knowledge of mankind, the ability to connect with other minds around the world and a voice with which to say something meaningful. Today, you have an opportunity to do something with that gift. And, if you're busy today, you'll have tomorrow.
How could all that possibly be "pointless"?
As a follower of Jesus, I'm sorry that the message shared was this life is pointless. That'd just be a cruel joke and, in fact, doesn't line up with the bible.
What we do here matters, but what we doesn't define who we are as much as it reveals our character. When we measure a search result, we're looking for more than data; we're looking for the meaning behind the data and the relevance of that data to the person who searched to begin with - all placed against the goals of the organization that created the search result to begin with.
In much the same way, we're all searching for that which has meaning and the relevance of that meaning to our purpose - all placed against the divine purpose of our individualization.
When people "still can't find what they're looking for", to borrow from the popular song, they don't ever really give up; they simply decide if it's worth the time and effort to get to an answer. From a marketing standpoint, our goal is to make that time short and the effort rewarding and beneficial. Similarly, based on biblical beliefs, God's goal is to make that time purposeful and rewarding in line with His plan for your life.
At least, that's how I look at it. :) Thanks for sharing your insights - love 'em!
Nice post Gord, and I agree with your sentiments. To put my own gloss on your experience, I think the attitude that "that this life is really a trial run for the after life" is empty and somewhat depressing. It's what we do, day in and day out, that defines our worth, our sense of self-worth, and our value as human beings - regardless of whether said after life exists or not.
That there is more general interest in a celebrity than a spiritual leader (I would follow neither) may be troubling, but has been so for at least since the Industrial Revolution (the Victorians had every bit an obsession with celebrity as we do, though in the absence of film and television it was normally linked to royalty and notorious criminals). I try to look on the bright side of things and recognize that people seek to forge connections, however vicarious, to those with which they have an emotional connection and provide them with some sort of inspiration - which is better than not forging connections at all.
What you seem to be showing is that insensitive and hurtful messages can be expressed directly to small audiences as well as impersonal super huge audiences. One major difference if Katy Perry tells you in the name of entertainmnet to believe a fable and another when someone in the name of religion to believe in something designed by human fantasy. Her fame could be fleeting; the other is destructive.
Oh My Gord, this is one of my favorite posts. I think Eleanor Roosevelt said it best - "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why we call it 'The Present'."
It's unfortunate that society is fed such information, especially from individuals of stature. It's not difficult to realize how this happens. We are bombarded with bad news, misguided well meaning (or not) celebrities and professional athletes that are the idol's of today's generation. When "idol's exhibit unacceptable behavior or partake in over indulgence and their fans don't deem that as unacceptable it shifts the entire psyche of that generation.
I for one have stopped watching network news. I venture to guess that if we could do a controlled study were two groups of toddlers from ages 2 - 7 were used and one group was only shown network news while the other was shown fun happy shows and everything around them were the same, we would see two very different types of teenagers 10 years later. I digress.
Using our minds to make good choices and make conscious decisions to have a good attitude at every turn personally and professionally is hard work but often worth the effort. When our subconscious thoughts have a profound effect our conscious decisions it's time to stop, breath and "think".
Wishing for a different past prevents us from living for today and building a better future. One of my favorite things to do in the morning is think about "what emotional clothing I want to wear today". We all have the power of our own mind - and that's a powerful tool.
Attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching?
I agree, and to repeat another often heard quote 'youth is wasted on the young'. As we grow older we grow more appreciative of time, while I look back on wasted time and think, wow, If I'd spent that time productively... If we as Americans would only spend the time wasted on the pop culture drivel that drives so many conversations, tweets, TV shows, etc, we would again regain our stature as a leading nation. Hearing 'oh I just don't have time' along with a detailed analysis of the line up on American Idol sounds a lot like misplaced priorities to me!