The Pattern of this World

615 rich poor Gina Sanders shutterstock
In every developed nation, you will find income disparity. The resulting rift between the rich and the poor, the have’s and the have not’s, widens every day. At the same time noble goals, such as the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, are being set up to end poverty and hunger by 2015. But they have not be very successful, have they? Why not?

My take is that there is something systemically wrong with the world’s system to begin with. The philosophy of most developed nations, while agreeing in principle with the need for equality, is resistant to the possibility of a world without the poor and the rich.

The system is set up such that some will succeed and become very rich as a result. They are, in turn, paraded in front of the rest in the same way you would put a carrot before a donkey. The message they are sending and we are receiving is that society rewards those who succeed with pleasure and we will be successful if we work harder. Conversely, the poor who are on the other end of the spectrum is a constant reminder to us about that pain we would have to bear if we don’t.

Pleasure and pain. Two of the greatest internal forces that will both propel and compel us to action. By using the promise of pleasure and the repulsiveness of pain, the system applies social controls over each one of us. We are powerless until and unless we realise that we are being controlled.

The most important step in emancipating oneself from social controls is the ability to find rewards in the events of each moment. If a person learns to enjoy and find meaning in the ongoing stream of experience, in the process of living itself, the burden of social controls automatically falls from one’s shoulders. Power returns to the person when rewards are no longer relegated to outside forces. It is no longer necessary to struggle for goals that always seem to recede into the future. Instead of forever straining for the tantalizing prize dangled just out of reach, one begins to harvest the genuine rewards of living. Flow. The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Mihaly Csikeszentmihalyi

Such is the pattern of this world and unknowingly we are being conditioned to believe that we need it to survive and live. The apostle Paul has warned us about this and exhorts us not to conform ourselves to it, but rather be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we might know the good and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2).

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