Thursday, October 19, 2006

True in 1940, true today

I came across this this morning on another blog I read; a passage from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's in Ethics.

"Already yesterday's concerns are consigned to forgetfulness, and tomorrow's are too far away to obligate us today. The burden of yesterday is shaken off by glorifying shadowy time of old; the task of tomorrow is avoided by talking about the coming millennium. Nothing is fixed, and nothing holds us. The film, vanishing from memory as soon as it ends, symbolizes the profound amnesia of our time. Events of world-historical significance, along with the most terrible crimes, leave no trace behind in the forgetful soul. One gambles with the future. Lotteries and gambling, which consume an inconceivable amount of money and often the daily bread of the worker, seek the improbable chance of luck in the future. The loss of past and future leaves life vacillating between the most brutish enjoyment of the moment and adventurous risk taking. Every inner development, every process of slow maturing in personal and vocational life, is abruptly broken off. There is no personal destiny and therefore no personal dignity. Serious tensions, inwardly necessary times of waiting, are not endured. This in evident in the domain of work as well as in erotic life. Lasting pain is more feared than death. The value of suffering as the forming of life through the threat of death is disregarded, even ridiculed. The alternatives are health or death. What is quiet, lasting and essential is discarded as worthless."

1 comment:

Carolina Kerr said...

This is true, but it has to be taken in tension with Jesus's commandment to concentrate on today, not being anxious about tomorrow. Bonhoffer, writing this in Germany in 1940, was about to be involved in a struggle against "events of world-historical significance, along with the most terrible crimes" as he participated in a plot to assasinate Hitler. We see it as history, but for him it was "today", a commitment to what he saw as right. It is good to have a vision of the future and act responsibly, something most people are avoiding doing as the reports come in about the worsening of our environment and the need for radical change in the way people treat nature. In a sense "today" is all we have, but it has to be kept in context.