Is this the Midas touch?

Is our quality of life diminishing in inverse proportion to our standard of living? And who is paying what price for this frenetic, so-called development or progress?

Is our quality of life diminishing in inverse proportion to our standard of living? And who is paying what price for this frenetic, so-called development or progress?

Restaurants, holiday cruises, leisure spots… All are overbooked. Supermarkets are overcrowded. Luxury has become a triviality. Cars have become means of desperation rather than means of transport – golden prisons stuck in monumental traffic jams. Employment is no problem, employees are. Roof gardens are sprouting where fields and pristine countryside used to flourish. The economy is booming… the Midas touch!

Money, money! We’ve learnt the lesson: the more we spend, the more we get! After all, isn’t this what a market economy is all about?

The more we rush headlong down this road – in spite of traffic and other jams ­– the less we see looming ahead of us two big questions – First: is our quality of life diminishing in inverse proportion to our standard of living? Second: who is paying what price for this frenetic, so-called deve­lopment or progress?

In true Jesuit fashion, allow me to answer these questions with some other questions.

First, regarding the quality of our life: are we growing stronger or weaker in our bodies, minds and spirits? Are there more or less people suffering from depression and stress? Are we needing more or less therapists for all kinds of disorders? Is loneliness and betrayal increasing or decreasing?

Are the young and not-so-young victims of alcohol, drugs, gambling and other addictions increasing or decreasing? Are suicide, suicidal attempts and self-harm increasing or decreasing? Are we having happier, healthier children or more problematic ones? Are mutual respect and trust increasing or decreasing among us?

Loving others ‘until it hurts’ is… a real Midas, life-giving touch, rather than… a golden blow of death

Be patient, if you still believe in patience, there still remains the second question: Who is paying the price for our dazing, impressive economic boom?

Our countryside, pristine natural valleys and skylines, beaches and coastlines, historical buildings and heritage, green and open spaces are being raped, ravaged and exploited beyond recognition.

Our social environment is no less a tragic victim. Whom can you trust? Out there, as they say, they’re all out to get you. When trust is dead, how can love survive? Our families are becoming the expensive graveyards of our hopes for life-long companionship and belonging. Commitment is too high a price, so we settle for the much more expensive but socially acceptable touch-and-go relationships.

If parents are the first victims of broken families, their children become the permanent and unredeemable ones. We admirably but helplessly resort to support systems trying to prop up the brokenness of both.

No wonder we are struggling to define our national and personal identity – the simple question of who we are. We increasingly depend on foreign investment (alias for foreign cash-milking cows), foreign workers (alias for exploited second-rate guests), foreign values and moral standards (alias for progressive, modern lifestyle). Inevitably, the escape route is racism and crass disrespect for any hapless, poor, starving immigrants who end up on our shores, especially if their skin is a darker shade than ours.

Who is paying the price? Is it them? Is it us?

Is there an answer to all these questions? In true Jesuit fashion, my answer is a resounding Yes! The answer is the Jesus of the Gospel – not the soppy Jesus of our fake beliefs and our glorious traditions, but the Jesus who equates the love of the true God to the crucified love of any true, real, flesh and blood neighbour, brother or sister. Loving them is indeed loving Him and our own selves.

Loving others “until it hurts” (Mother Teresa) is touching them with a real Midas, life-giving touch, rather than striking them down with a golden blow of death.

Anyone interested in being part of the answer?

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