Lost in a Busy World

There is a game called by many different names that is played around the world. Where I grew up we called it “Operator.” The game is simple, but revealing. One person whispers a message to another and the message is passed through the entire group until it reaches the last player, who then announces the message out loud to the entire group. The final message rarely resembles the first, despite the best intentions of those involved.

When I consider human history, part of me wonders if we haven’t been involved in a massive and long-standing game of Operator since the earliest days. Was our original purpose articulated initially but lost through cumulative error over time? In recent times, say during the last 100 years or so, we’ve moved through a period of massive change where the baton of morality was largely passed from those who safeguarded scripture to those who engineered culture. The purpose of life was whispered from the mouth of the former to the ears of the latter and the message was very likely changed in the process.

While I can only speculate as to who whispered into the ears of the churches and various religions of the world in eras previous to their genesis, I have to wonder if the message was also changed at that point, deliberately or accidentally, as is so often the case.

What scares me a bit now is the fact that we have moved away from the deliberate use of culture as a means of conveying morality to a cultural free-for-all, where the voices of reason risk being lost in a busy and overextended world.

We live in a state where underlying meaning and purpose is often lost or at best unclear, yet we continue the outer rituals that previously served as vehicles for their expression and perpetuation. For those religiously inclined, prayer used to be a means of radiant expression, of reaffirming a shared vision with a higher purpose. Today it is primarily used as a platform for articulating wishes and wants, often in the form of demands (e.g. “Show me…,” “Tell me…,” “Give me…”). In a similar fashion, our educational system, which was forged in part to recalibrate the moral compass of the masses in a time where church attendance waned significantly, now finds itself capable as a conveyor of facts and data but increasingly impotent when it comes to fashioning a strong sense of morality.

Is giving everyone a megaphone on the internet the answer? I can’t imagine how. The only thing I’ve seen is that the noise has only gotten louder. Good things happen here and there as a result of the din, such as a repressive regime being overthrown here and there, but if my history is correct, that type of thing happened long before the internet. Am I a Luddite? No. Am I concerned to find a way to do my part to get back to the original message? Yes.

There is no shame in feeling like a voice crying in the wilderness. In fact, if you don’t feel that on occasion you have probably numbed yourself to the questions that you should probably be asking. Why are you here? Why are we here? What are we supposed to be doing together?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

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6 Responses to Lost in a Busy World

  1. Rowan says:

    I have often wondered the same thing. With the advent of the internet, it seems as the state of the world is magnified (or, just more centralized and revealing). If someone were to visit our world and search the internet to understand the culture of this place, it would appear to be a scary, crazy and rather risky visit. Although there are areas of beauty, the majority is questionable. If we’re not asking the questions you posed, what are we doing and why are we doing it? Are we here just to pass a garbled message that we ourselves don’t even understand or are we here for something much greater? If we allow there to be some space in our hearts for thankfulness and appreciation, perhaps the din will begin to quiet and we can learn to hear that original message.

  2. Colin says:

    I think that what you are saying has definitely happened throughout history, probably many times. Even looking archeologically we have very little idea about some of the things we have found, and those are (literally) set in stone. Just imagine how something like morality has changed, lately it has seemed amorphous enough to change every generation. That might be because of how easy communication has become in the modern era, as well. The giant megaphone of the internet has sped things up.
    We are going to have to figure out a way to find our purpose, individually and as a species. But finding a purpose is not the same as being told your purpose by someone else, it has to be grown organically. It can be inspired as well, if you are willing to listen to inspiration.
    It is my hope that enhanced vehicles for communication like the internet will be an inspiration enhancer as well. Tools like the internet magnify what is going on in the body of humanity. But because they speed up communication so much, the spark of inspiration can grow much faster than it could in previous eras, and some people are listening.

  3. MMc says:

    I ask myself that constantly. When I see the rat race that passes for society I don’t wonder if we’re off message, I wonder how I can at least hear a modicum of what the intended message was. Your blog is one of the things I read that helps me to hear that voice of reason in myself. I’ve always thought of it as my higher self, my better nature. When I am aware through it I do find the direction for my moral compass. Thanks so much for your continued efforts for a better world.

  4. PNK says:

    Excellent essay! I am interested to read more of your blog.

  5. David R says:

    Great subject for meditation! It is remarkable how the “operator” factor works, and to see how concepts and beliefs morph so quickly and thoroughly could be discouraging. On the other hand, I suppose that if one always squares understanding and expression back to a basis of proven truth, it isn’t so likely that distortion will result.

    Yesterday I was walking in a lovely park full of old, varied trees, and it occurred to me that a place of sanctuary, outer or inner, is the beginning of everything true, real and beautiful. Something to remeber!

  6. As we allow ourselves to put the world aside for a moment at least to remember what really is important we do come back to an awareness that our lives are really meant for something. Something that is large and universally connected. As we do take a moment to know the reality of being one with all we remember our reason for being. I do feel all of the living world including human beings long to remember their connection and their purpose for being. Thank you for your words and blog to join in as one voice. I do feel there is a spiritual uprising occuring where instead of that lone voice sounding there is a multitude of awakening individuals sounding the call of what really matters.

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