A house in our neighborhood burned down today. I was alerted to the fire by my wife who, while out running errands, saw the smoke and phoned. Curious I stepped out the front door to check it out, and sure enough there it was. A plume of smoke was rising out of the neighborhood near by, and I watched for a moment before returning to the air-conditioned comfort of my living room. I was convinced there was nothing I could do.
But my heart hearkened back to an era when the smoke would have elicited a different response from me. A time when the smoke would have drawn me to the scene, not as a sight seer, but as a much needed hand in fire fighting, or to assist in some other way. After extinguishing the fire there would've been an opportunity to assist in other ways and there would have probably been a house raising as well. Today if I had gone to help I would've been told by the fire department professionals to stay behind the yellow tape. The house will more than likely be rebuilt by an insurance company, so there won't be any house raising. That will be done by the professionals versed in construction and the myriad details of building code. So ultimately I can happily go about my business without having to be bothered by it at all.
Such is the luxury of living in the modern world in a modern culture. As a society, for the time being anyway, we have successfully put suffering at arms length. But I can't help but wonder if the price humanity has paid to avoid suffering is not higher than the price of suffering itself. Even as I consider this article, my honest response is telling. I cringe and recoil at the thought of being bothered and imposed upon by my neighbor's woes, and I have no youthful fantasies about suffering with my neighbor either. I also know enough about suffering to understand that there's a reason why modern man goes to great lengths to eliminate it from the realm of his existence. But still this event has given me cause to feel somewhat plagued by the loss of something; something that can only be gained, I fear, through suffering.
Right vs Real - A longtime friend of mine has always drawn a distinction between "right" and "real". Ask a Christian a plainly-known question like "Are we saved by faith o...