Many of our friends and colleagues are celebrating Holidays centered on renewal and rebirth, while in a good portion of the world nature is doing the same.
Yet all one has to do is look at the news to see how jaded we have become to suffering and death, in direct contradistinction to what the season (religious or physical) is telling us. Our hearts go out to our friends in Italy who have undergone a terrible tragedy of natural disaster; we worry for the captain of the pirated ship and feel for his family; we read about families starving in our world of abundance, children dying of diseases that should have long ago been eradicated, and people killing each other because of differences of religion, politics, even dress codes.
What makes it worse – in my mind – is that those stories are all too common – all too ordinary. We have truly become jaded as they are quickly relegated to secondary status, often displaced by the latest celebrity antics of a shallow few or the newest prurient scandal or worse, something you forget as soon as you pass it by.
Seems to me that our DNA has been infused with special feelings for this season precisely because our earliest ancestors didn’t take it for granted – they didn’t watch the world return to a green state with a jaundiced eye and were grateful that after a long winter when the world looked dead to them, it came back to life – bringing with it hope and joy.
To that end I was struck by the following:
We strain to renew our capacity for wonder, to shock ourselves into astonishment once again.
And there you have the challenge for our time – maybe for all time – we need to wonder; we need to be astonished. We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into boredom by technology, by the rapidity of events, by the accumulation of so much tragedy that it’s hard to relate.