Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 30, 2004
Develop an open mind, a thick skin
Light One Candle
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
What were you doing in 1968?
While some readers of this column were not even born then, I suspect many remember the year very well for many reasons, not the least of which was how fast things seemed to be happening, with regard to social issues as well as scientific and technological advances.
I was reminded of this the other day when I came across a long out-of-print Christopher News Note called A Fast-Changing World - and You. Maryknoll Father James Keller, the founder of The Christophers, wanted readers to give serious thought to the world as it was then and as it might become. I was intrigued by references to lasers, optical scanners and communications satellites.
And one caution seemed particularly perceptive: "By the year 2000, difficult moral judgments will have to be made concerning the power of biological science to predict and affect the genetic make-up of unborn babies."
On a lighter note, I still haven't heard much about that "experimental washing machine which takes 45 seconds to wash, dry and iron a sheet." But who knows? It might still be in development.
The news note was also interesting for what wasn't mentioned. Cell phones, personal computers and CD players, for instance, were missing from the discussion.
But the real aim of the piece was not to make predictions about successful inventions or useful discoveries. Rather, The Christophers wanted to remind people of some points that are still valid today - that change is a healthy, necessary condition for all living things; that our unique God-given powers have made it possible for us to find and use the wonders of the universe; and that with God's help each of us can do something, large or small, to harness the forces of change so that creation's goodness can serve all people.
No wonder Keller advised us "to develop an open mind and a thick skin."
The 36 years from 1968 to 2004 is half a lifetime. We haven't just witnessed enormous change; we've lived it. Yet, many similarities exist: questions of human rights, political strife, economic worries, the horror of war and violence - and the desire for peace and freedom. And, whether we want to or not, we must think and act to the best of our ability for one simple reason: that is why we're here.
Arnold Toynbee, English historian and philosopher, was quoted in that news note on the importance of the decisions that we must face and make for ourselves: "Everyone now alive has been charged with a sacred trust. . . . The making of these choices is a heavy burden for us human beings; at the same time, our power to choose and to decide is an open door for hope. This God-given power is our distinctive human characteristic. We are not in the hopeless position of ants or bees, whose actions are dictated by built-in instincts. At the price of being responsible, human beings are free. We are free to choose life and good or to choose death and evil."
Fast or slow, time passes, and so do our opportunities to make a choice, to make a difference, to light a candle.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Decide For Yourself - Beliefs, Values, Choices, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.