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Friday, June 11, 2010

A Mass of Impersonal Human Beings

"When men are merely submerged in a mass of impersonal human beings pushed around by automatic forces, they lose their humanity, their integrity, their ability to love, their capacity for self-determination." - Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

This quote by Merton relates to my recent musings on the blessed life. A life of integrity means that our values and humanity are integrated into every element of our lives. When our work, recreation, religion, buying habits, addictions, or other activities of our lives cut us off from what is most human about us, then our lives become fragmented and frustrated.

Perhaps the awkward thing about our age is that we are being "pushed around by automatic forces," like advertising or other media, but many of us are okay with it. We know that advertisers are deliberately manipulating our psyche to get us to buy products, but we like it well enough that we don't protest. We understand that our favorite cable news channel program presents a very slanted spin on events, but it's what we want to hear (and after a while we forget that it's a slanted spin, and then we assume it's all more or less fact).

Merton points out the loss of humanity, integrity, ability to love, and the capacity for self-determination. I would say that these four losses are definite manifestations of a life of frustration that comes out of being objectified as a consumer within the spirit of a consumeristic society. Consumerism is the kind of "automatic force" that can drain us of very vital spiritual and human qualities.

1 comment:

edwin said...

a perfect message for our times