The Paradox of Our Age

Memorial Day is an American federal holiday observed annually on the last Monday of May. On this day, many people visit flag-decorated cemeteries and memorials, to honor those who have died in military service.

Today, Memorial Day has become an occasion for more general expressions of memory, as people visit the graves of their deceased relatives in church cemeteries, whether they had served in the military or not.

Memorial Day has also become a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

I spent this year’s Memorial Day, completing a book manuscript titled “The Transformed Mind: Changing the World By Being Changed.” However, I took some time off to reflect on life—my life, in the context of God’s will. In the course of that reflection, the words of Dr. Bob Moorehead spoke anew to me.

Thus, in place of my weekly thought nugget, I thought I should share Dr. Moorehead’s “The Paradox of Our Age” with you. Be inspired–and challenged!–SKP

The Paradox of Our Age

By: Dr. Bob Moorehead (1995)

“We have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less; we have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, yet less time; we have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, yet more problems; more medicine, but less wellness; we take more vitamins but see fewer results.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values; we fly in faster planes to arrive there quicker, to do less and return sooner; we sign more contracts only to realize fewer profits; we talk too much, love too seldom, and lie too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life.

We’ve added years to life not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.

We’ve conquered outer space but not inner space; we’ve done larger things, but not better things; we’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.

We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less; plan more, but accomplish less; we make faster planes, but longer lines; we learned to rush, but not to wait; we have more weapons, but less peace; higher incomes, but lower morals; more parties, but less fun; more food, but less appeasement; more acquaintances, but fewer friends; more effort, but less success.

We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; drive smaller cars that have bigger problems; build larger factories that produce less. We’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, but short character; steep in profits, but shallow relationships.

These are times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure and less fun; higher postage, but slower mail; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; these are times of fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, cartridge living, throw-away morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to prevent, quiet or kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. Indeed, these are the times!”


NOTE: This essay is sometimes circulated on the Internet under the title “The Paradox of Our Time” and has often been wrongly attributed to 70’s/80’s comedian George Carlin. It has also circulated as having been written by an unnamed student of the Columbine High school massacre in Colorado. Others have attributed to the Dalai Lama or to the most prolific author in history, Anonymous.

The truth, however, is that “The Paradox of Our Age” was penned by Dr. Bob Moorehead, a former pastor of Seattle’s Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Washington. He wrote it in 1990, but the essay was later published in 1995 in his book WORDS APTLY SPOKEN—which was collection of prayers, homilies, and monologues used in his sermons and radio broadcasts. The original piece was grouped into three paragraphs. In the version I’ve posted above, I’ve broken it into shorter paragraphs, beginning each paragraph with a new sentence in Dr. Moorehead’s original piece.

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