“Life is not about the destination but about the journey” is an expression that is all-so-common in our culture. We have shifted the focus of society from living toward an end to living in the moment.
I’m not passing judgment saying one thing is better than another; all I’m doing is simply making a point. We as a culture embrace the moment; we seize opportunities and break down what holds us back and we race toward the next gleaming moment of life. Life has become a marathon of exciting, meaningful and stimulating moments.
Our food tastes richer, our cars go faster, our phones are mobile computers and everything that we ever could want is at our disposal in ways that our grandparents and their parents couldn’t have imagined.
In a lot of ways, advances in our culture have caused betterments in medicine, the quality of life and many other things. So for advancements, we have a lot to be celebrated for as a culture.
This year alone, India celebrated no cases of polio. A country that once represented over half the reported incidents of polio has eradicated the disease in a matter of years, and for that we can thank the work of many doctors, nurses, volunteers and the graces of God. Without the hard work of so many people, no doubt India would still be fighting Polio on a high-incidence rate.
When life moves so fast, sometimes we forget this greater community we exist within; the Body of Christ. We are called to live out a greater mission of service, to lay down what we want and take up that which others need. When we think of the things we have – our phones, our clothing and maybe our cars – we forget things that go with our phones.
Maybe the next time that we are up for an upgrade on our iPhone, we can remember the new mineral conflict going on in Western Africa due to the new technologies of smartphones and forgo on our new upgrade that we really don’t need.
Or even when we visit our favorite shop, remember the people who spent time creating your clothes; does that company practice fair trade practices or even give its workers a living wage?
What we are called to do is not easy. The life of a believer in any faith tradition is one of constant difficult decisions because truly, when you begin a personal and intimate relationship with the Divine – Christian or otherwise – you realize that your life is not just your own.
Your life is meant to be a servant gift, to be shared with the people you encounter. Your life is a gift of love and the purpose of that love can be whatever you choose for it. No one’s asking you to be a martyr… well maybe you will be called to be a martyr; but in any case, if you can every day pick one person and improve his or her life just a tiny bit, you have made a difference already.
Dorothy Day, a great modern-day hero of Catholic Social Teaching, once wrote, “What we would like to do is change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute—the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words—we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world.
“We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as our friend.”