-Everyone needs an origin story. Just as the amnesiac loses their identity by not knowing where they come from, and the orphan who searches for his birth family as a way of learning something about himself, so every human needs an origin story to give them a greater sense of definition and coherence to their life.
In the 20th century we saw first hand the manner in which Russian and Chinese communism literally robbed the people of their very spirit by exhuming all forms of religious origin stories and narrative. Once the traditional religious narratives were replaced with a ‘now & now only’ philosophy that deemphasized the past by focusing only on a progressive view of history, the culture immediately experienced a decline in its art, music, philosophy, and overall wellbeing.
There are many dangerous elements in a philosophy of now & now only, the first and foremost being the dystopian element in which coherence of thought disappears among the populace. This has taken place many times in history and tends to result in a type of thought control. After the Nazi’s in Germany and the Communists in Russia took control and expunged all of the traditional historical and religious narratives, it became much easier for the heads of government to persuade their military and police forces to commit all types of atrocities against their fellow citizens. Torture, maiming, and all manner of despicable atrocities were committed by men and women against their very own neighbors. When you are living in the now & now only philosophical perspective, there is very little that binds you to your neighbor and fellow countryman. Since religion in the old world was always about binding the people together and to god(s), it resulted in an obvious sense of camaraderie and spirit of good will that was expected to be demonstrated among people of the same religion. This isn’t to say that within every religion the people acted with perfect love toward each other at all times, hardly! But it is to point out that it wasn’t until the 20th century that we had the opportunity to observe first hand the sheer level of evil that could be committed against one’s neighbors and fellow countrymen as 20th century Nazism and communism brought a type of totalitarianism to the world never before witnessed.
As of the time of this writing, the State of New York ratified a new law in which abortion is now legal right up to the very point of delivery. The baby is fully 9 months grown, he is coming down the birth canal, the child is literally about to take his first breath and yet a doctor can reach in and crush the skull of this beautiful child. The people of New York somehow believe that killing the life moments before birth is not murder, but killing the life after birth is murder.
In the ancient world there were no distinctions; both abortion, infanticide, and the murder of unwanted children after birth was commonplace at various periods throughout history. The ancient Romans were notorious for their law that allowed a father to throw an unwanted newborn baby into the public square where it was illegal for anyone to come and give aid to the child (though the first century Christians regularly, under cloak of night came in and rescued those babies and raised them as their own).
In the ancient world there was no misunderstanding that whether you killed the child while it was in the womb or outside of the womb; you were killing a child. And while abortion was practiced in the ancient world, many couples preferred killing the baby outside of the womb because that was the safest form of murder when it came to protecting the mother’s life. It is the height of absurdity that radical abortionists make their strange case about protecting the health of the mother, when the truly safest form of murder is killing the baby outside of the womb; not inserting a whole host of medical instruments inside the woman’s birth canal and putting the woman at danger of a whole host of various side effects and infections.
In our culture, where the concept of now & now only has taken root, a type of intellectual stupor has fallen upon the masses who cannot admit an obvious truth; a baby is a baby, whether in the womb or out. At least the ancient Romans could admit this very obvious self-evident truth. The now & now only philosophy renders politicians and citizens incapable of living in the realm of reality.
The now & now only philosophy has also brought the near destruction to marriage that we have witnessed over the past few generations. Now & now only focuses only on the ‘happiness of the individual’, all other issues are considered irrelevant. Thus, honor, integrity, faithfulness, and other such virtues are considered second rate issues at best, as the happiness of the individual is considered the only thing that truly matters in our now & now only society. “You just need to be happy” men and women are told by their therapists. What exactly people mean by ‘happiness of the individual’ is rarely discussed or even understood. Yet their happiness is considered the thing they should be thinking about at all times in everything they do.
Anyone who has experienced the joy of marriage or the joy of parenthood knows firsthand that the very last thing a spouse or parent thinks about is their own happiness! Loving one’s spouse and children requires the exact opposite mentality of ‘pursuing one’s own happiness’, rather, being a good spouse or parent means putting aside your wants and desires and loving unconditionally your family. I don’t recall anything particularly ‘happy’ about being up at three in the morning with a sick child when I had to be to work a couple hours later.
When I worked as a counselor I was always amazed how many clients came to me saying, “I just want to be happy”. Working at the rehab clinic, countless drug and alcohol addicts were obsessed with the same thing; their own happiness. Such people seem to know very little about the responsibility of being an adult; being an adult is not easy, nor does it involve a never ending cadre of sunshine days of happiness. The Christian message embraces a very different concept from pursuing one’s own happiness, Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” and even more explicit Jesus says, “If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”. True religion according to Jesus was literally denying oneself of what would make yourself “happy”.
It seems rather evident that what the now & now only philosophy is talking about when it comes to happiness, is a me-happiness or selfish-happiness. Within this philosophy there is no statement about adulthood taking responsibility and living a difficult life of drudgery, parenthood about being selfless, and a good friend serving others rather than using others.
The more we delve into the modern now & now only philosophy, we begin to see that one of the core tenants of this way of thinking is selfishness. Where the biblical religion teaches selflessness, now & now only places the thoughts of the individual toward an always revolving focus on selfish-happiness.
Psychology, which is the method Western Society has developed in helping people overcome various psycho-social problems as well as psycho-cognitive problems, is largely based in a now & now only individualistic selfish-happy objective. Whether the client is sitting one-on-one with a therapist, or sitting in a group setting, the psychological program consists of the client talking about themselves. This is an extreme form of institutional narcissism; psychology believes the way to help people is to encourage people to think about themselves even more than they already do! A fundamental question is never asked; isn’t the problem with most people that they are thinking about their own selfish-happiness too much in the first place?
True religion compels people to stop thinking about their own selfish-happiness, and to embrace the drudgery of being an adult, the difficulty of being a parent, and the selflessness that is demanded to maintain a healthy marriage.
Being an adult means doing things that are the opposite of selfish-happiness. While psychology tells people to find a job that “fulfills you”, reality reminds us that such thinking is a fantasy. Only in a fantasy world can humans erect a society where all the humans work jobs that “fulfill” them. And this is not even taking into account that the now & now only philosophy never really defines what it means to work a job that ‘fulfills’. Are garbage men ‘fulfilled’ by their job? Are the men and women who clean sewer pumps fulfilled by their jobs? Are coal miners fulfilled by their job?
The concept of working a job that fulfills you is never deeply analyzed or discussed in the now & now only philosophy. It is simply taken for granted that working a job that fulfills should be the primary goal of all selfish-happy humans. Perhaps a more compelling question is whether or not living a selfish-happy job brings much joy or eternal peace to an individual’s life?
The Psalmist suggests that those who are “blessed” are those who “walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers”. Thus, true religion for the Psalmist has more to do with not engaging in particular behaviors. True religion has very little to do with focusing on selfish-happiness.
The biblical message reminds humans that the blessed life is one lived in service to another. The blessed adult is he or she who serves their loved ones, loves their enemies, and prays for those who may persecute him. Now & now only philosophy fails to point humanity toward the eternal message of the good news of the bible; there is hope for humanity, there is blessedness and joy that is obtainable, but it is not by focusing on my immediate selfish-happiness, but rather it is by turning my eyes toward thoughts of a higher nature.
Now & now only leads society toward destruction. It disrupts families, destroys marriages, creates a society of selfish-happy people who are consumed with their every whim and fancy. True religion compels people to lift their eyes unto a far higher elevation; true religion demands a denial of self in exchange for joy and blessedness.
*Stock image Aubin A Sadiki