Friday, June 26, 2009

How restraint is a blessing

I got this awesome piece of text in my mailbox.. the author isn't mentioned, but I couldn't deprive you of it.

We pray to our Lord to lift the heaviness off our hearts: and no one can lift those burdens except He Alone. Nowadays , huge industries have been built up whose only function is to provide diversion and amusement for people. Indeed, most industry falls under this category: the product that sells is not simply the one that fulfills a need, but the one that diverts people from the awareness of their misery – thus, television , videos, sports cars, fashions, games, etc. etc. are the new necessities of life.

All of these products of diversion have to compete with each other to gain their portion of the market, thus, another huge industry: Advertising. So, as we drive through the streets, beautiful people with clean white smiles come to meet us from their billboards and testify that , if only we buy such – and – such a product, we will look as good as they do, and always be surrounded by other beautiful people. The same is true of television ads: all are happy and laughing people.

But he to who God has granted penetrating vision may observe that these people are smiling the ‘smile of the skeleton’, the smile which always appears on skulls: all is just show, inside of themselves they are empty. What people call pleasure is only a kind of forced enjoyment.

Very young people may perhaps really feel enjoyment, as everything new is tasteful, but as they continue on this way, more and more they feel boredom setting in, that pleasure becoming but a routine. As a result they go further and further on the same way, to see if they can outrace the shadow of routine that makes all pleasures tasteless. Though they cannot win this race, they keep on running, progressing towards extremes of stimulation, but still feeling no pleasure. This disappointment and the consequent misery result from the mistaken assumption that ‘more is better’. For example, a spoonful of honey is sweeter than a cupful which will only make you sick. But because the philosophy of endless greed is now the common creed, people think that finding a beehive would be their greatest fortune. How wrong they are!

Oh people who claim to possess understanding, you must understand that Your Lord has placed a hindrance before the fulfillment of some of your desires only for your own good, not because He enjoys depriving you of something good. If something is prohibited by religion it is only because that so-called pleasure is a trap to catch you into suffering


Anonymous said...

There was a scientology video ad on your site . . . makes it look like you are scientologist . . .

3rd... said...

LOL.. :)

Anonymous said...

Salam 3Rd, hey now that post is a great reminder... god i really needed that, the timing could not of been any better..

earlier i was messing about with my blog, and blogger kept sticking and chucking me out also.. maybe something up with their system because i had trouble replying a blog also.

now it seems to be okay.

Donald said...

That's brilliant 3rd.

Advertising is a sham. It pretends to sell happiness, but what it really sells is dissatisfaction. And not just advertising… I don't watch a lot of TV anymore, but I remember a talk show some years ago where someone (I don't remember who) observed that if you go to any bookstore's self-help section, half of the books tell you how you can have it all (wealth, health, popularity, happiness), and the other half are to help you deal with the depression that results when your life fails to live up to all those expectations.

We live in such a materialistic culture, for which advertising must be partly to blame. But the problem is older than mass media. I read this recently in the book of Ecclesiastes (which was written around 200 BC or earlier) and it really jumped out at me:

'And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.'

I thought, how true is that! When I read about successful business people (or people who can afford month-long holidays ;) there is a part of me that says 'by comparison I'm a failure'. I think fashion magazines must do the same thing to many women. How sad! There's nothing wrong with setting goals and striving for them, but there will always be someone more successful, more beautiful, more whatever. If only we could learn 'the secret of being content in any and every situation'.