once upon a time…then, now and beyond

Here are four different and yet connecting insights which have much to say/offer to our present predicament. It was a joy digging them out again from my collection. What can you discern from them? And from where you are located what connections can you make?

  1.  Jared Diamond in Collapse (2005) draws on Joseph Trainer who wrote The Collapse of Complex Societies to five his reasons for “collapse” by making the following observation: a group may fail to anticipate a problem before the problem actually arrives; when the problem does arrive, the group may fail to perceive it; then after they perceive it, they may fail even to try to solve it; and finally they may try to solve it but may not succeed.
  2. Milan Kundera writing in Betrayed [2004] describes us humans as moving in a fog – always uncertain of where we are heading. The irony is that “when we look back to judge people of the past – we see no fog in their path”. In other words we judge the past by a different standard influenced by the way things would have turned out. The path always seems clear once trodden upon.
  3. Soren Kierkegaard told a parable of “The Man who walked Backwards”. He noted: When a man turns his back upon someone and walks away, it is so easy to see that he walks away. But when he hits upon a method of turning his face towards the one he is walking away from – walking backwards while with appearance and glance and salutations he greets the person, giving assurances again and again that he is coming immediately or incessantly saying ‘Here I am” – although he gets farther away by walking backwards: then it is not so easy to become aware. Kierkegaard’s concerns may be about the inconsistent behaviours that often accompany good intentions and the gulf between concept and capacity.
  4. I recall a Jewish story (I think) of a prophet who came to a city and delivered his uncomfortable message everyday in the market place. After a time his ranting became a fixture of the city’s life and people regarded him with amusement if they regarded him at all. Finally, a child, pitying the old man, approached him and asked: Sir, why do you keep crying aloud like this every day, year after year? The people here never listen to you. The old man replied: “My child, I gave up hope that they would listen to me a long time ago. I go on crying lest I start listening to them. Do we give in to the prevailing mood? Or do we become agents of hope that embrace the promise that our reality with all its contradictions will be transformed into God’s new world?

copyright © September 11, 2011

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jennifer says:

    Really unique post. There is a large amount of details and information here that are really helpful. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

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