Weighed Down and Distracted
The prophet Daniel was told the "time of the end" would see “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12). Sounds like my summer—I traveled farther than most people in history ever did just by driving around Ontario, and of course, I stayed plugged in to the internet. I learned about murders, floods, Zambian politics, Russian intelligence, Snowden and drone attacks, a sinkhole and Detroit bankruptcy, etc. There is no end, I think, of what I learned in a week as I roamed all over the earth metaphorically. Probably the thing I learned that I most wish I didn’t know was the python story that killed the two little kids. Why did I read that? Now I am sad for something I can’t affect; for some people I will never know, in a place I have never been, and it is in my mind—along with 20 other sad stories from around the world this week. I am becoming one sad sack of knowledge.
We seem to have to carry the world’s burdens on our shoulders. We learn about sad things, tragic things, frustrating things, and horrible things, in an ever increasing flood. Most people in history hardly knew what happened in the next county, let alone in the next country! Then it would take six months to learn about an earthquake in China, if at all. Now, I know it instantly along with how various celebrities feel about it, and where they tell me I should send my money.
Perhaps, like me, your world is becoming an unceasing knowledge infusion of trivia and sadness, politics and people, places and tragedies. Are you beginning to feel like your whole life is preparation to be a contestant on Jeopardy? And it is all beyond our reach, beyond our relationships, beyond our ability to make any difference. We are distracted from our own lives and our time is taken up with details that will never matter to us—while what matters is left to decline at our feet. Rather than liberating, this barrage of information has become depressing and paralyzing.
I know some who are unplugging for a few weeks. Some who are getting off the grid for a time. Some who are Facebook fasters and who also determine to withdraw from the news, with all the subsequent sufferings. But it’s always for a time only. We go back, are drawn back, are driven back, are needed back, and are welcomed back.
O to live in a world where python deaths are things of myth rather than reality! Where a “star’s” musing is not news, and where suffering and pain are contained within a range that we could actually make a difference and get involved as part of the solution. But for this to happen, our worlds would need to wilfully contract to manageable boundaries—to our primary relationships and locations. Our personal borders would need to be smaller in every way. Who could summon such willpower and discipline in this time of the end? Perhaps someone will invent the town-wide web and we can turn off the world-wide one?
What is tragic is the distraction from what is real knowledge and even better, real wisdom. We are distracted from our Creator and Lord, and occupied with the knowledge of trivia rather than life. Listen to the Book of Wisdom:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Proverbs 2:6-10 (ESV)
© Kevin Mahon
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