Why is it true our modern lives continue to get easier but our lives do not?
We have comfort and convenience Kings could not imagine just a few hundred years ago. We can fill our lives as we like with an unprecedented array of choices. Why does it appear all our technological advances come with an unintended consequence of further dependence, not the feeling of freedom as promised? Why do I see self inflicted wounds of the very successful everyday in this practice? Why? I wish I knew. So, I went back for a little historical perspective. I traveled back to France in the mid 1600’s and took a walk with Blaise Pascal. Here’s some of what I found:
“Being unable to cure death, wretchedness and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things.” Yikes. This wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Maybe, just maybe, ole Blaise is a slow starter. So, I read on. “I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.” Umm, I’m trying here doctor P and you are not making this any easier. I turned the page and decided to give him one more shot at it.
“The only good thing for men therefore is to be diverted from thinking of what they are, either by some occupation which takes their mind off it, or by some novel and agreeable passion which keeps them busy, like gambling, hunting, some absorbing show, in short by what is called diversion. That is why gaming and feminine society, war, and high office are so popular. It is not that they really bring happiness, nor that anyone imagines that true bliss comes from possessing the money to be won at gaming or the hare that is hunted; no one would take it as a gift…That is why we prefer the hunt to the capture. That is why men are so fond of hustle and bustle; that is why prison is such a fearful punishment; that is why the pleasures of solitude are so incomprehensible. That, in fact, is the main joy of being a king, because people are continually trying to divert him and procure him every kind of pleasure. A king is surrounded by people whose only thought is to divert him and stop him thinking about himself, because, king though he is, he becomes unhappy as soon as thinks about himself.”
Talk about an “Oh, shit moment.” All I can think about at the moment is some kinda pill for my headache. These dead french guys are not really helpful. Hey, Dr. Pascal, you got any prescription for those of us still trying to figure out a way forward? Turns out the good doc does.
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since the infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite an immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
We all have a God shaped hole that only He can fill. God, help me take my tiny mustard seed of faith and allow your Spirit to fill me up as only You can do. God, help me. And, God, thanks for sending Dr. Frenchie. His Pensees are kinda like your Word – still relevant after all this progress. Slow down and reflect, friend. Slow down and spend a moment quietly, alone. Good…