We do not generally write of world events here. We will not now either. But a couple of references in articles dealing with recent events in Paris did strike us for their applicability beyond these current events.
A newspaper columnist in addressing the issue of “A religious answer to religious extremism (Looking at the texts)”, invoked the words of a clergyman and philosopher who wrote of us living in a century “that has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning”.
In a world with 500 television channels on a cable box, endless trails on the information highway and purchasing options heading towards infinity, the lack of meaning accompanying this multitude of choices rings true to me.
At the same time, I also read today how “La Marseillaise”, France’s National Anthem, according to the newspaper headline has become “an emotional anchor”.It “resonates emotionally around the world”, said the article.
Swimming this morning, I contemplated both ideas and their relationship: Maximum choice/Lack of meaning and “anchors”.
In a world of cool efficiency, our pace has accelerated along with our options. But “meaning” remains elusive.
This trend has something to do with our need for “anchors” – whether La Marseillaise, Oh Canada, God Bless America, Imagine, The City of New Orleans, the Armory/Navy Hymn, Notre Dame Fight Song or Les Canadiens Sont La !
In different ways, they help us identify and rally around what matters to us.
It appears that we are all suffering from too much, too fast and are seeking our own “anchors”, be they secular, cultural or religious.
We need anchors – they soothe, they comfort and they help us tell ourselves and others what matters and why.
At the same time that we embrace and need anchors should be informing us about our search (explorations/Journeys Into, whatever you choose to call it) meaning in this world “that has left us with maximum choice and a minimum of meaning”.
The meaning is there if we take the time and effort to contemplate it. Otherwise we will be relegated to invoking anchors as we continue on automatic pilot talking past and battling with one another.