21st Century Enlightenment

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There is an interesting video on a humanistic approach to the interesting topic of “enlightenment” in the Western sense. (link) It’s difficult to tell what the talented speaker and cartoonist are trying to describe, but I think I can boil it down to this. What the world needs is not so much more information and technology, and not even more wealth. What we need is more empathy for our fellow man.

The video then goes on to think about what the ultimate goal of our world’s society should be. Although we are tremendously good at getting what we want, we don’t really know what we want.

This is the important question that only has hollow answers unless you turn to religion, and especially those religions which embrace the true and living God.

On human empathy, we have a word for this in scripture, and it is “charity”. It is the ultimate aim of all the commandments—to love God and to love our fellow man.

Why love God? Because God is perfect, and we need to look towards perfection for all of life’s decisions.

Why love our fellow man? Until you love your fellow man as yourself, meaning you love yourself as well, that is impossible to answer. Having experienced that love to some degree for myself, I can only say that it is one of those self-evident truths. We need to love our fellow man because we need to love our fellow man.

The scriptures warn us that all the piety in the world is pointless unless we have charity. All of everything is pointless as well. I don’t need to find scriptures to explain this. They are far too abundant.

Humanists who embrace the necessity for man to love each other cannot disagree with the Christian commandment to love all people as themselves. Any religion which teaches this as a matter of religion that is not up for debate is a good one.

Secondly, we need to have a clear goal of what we are to become. Some people imagine a technological future where we have augmented our bodies with technology or science, where we live infinite immortal lives and where we have solved every care in the world and answered ever desire we could ever have. Unfortunately, such a future is empty and pointless, again, because without charity, we are nothing.

The point is that charity isn’t a means to an end, it is an end, the only end worth pursuing.

You may be familiar with some of my religion’s beliefs, that religion being the Mormon one. You may have heard that we believe man may become like God, or even equal with God. That is true. But what is curiously missing from this question is how we teach each other we can become like God.

Again, charity. Everything in this life is designed to teach us simply to love each other with all our hearts, might, mind and strength. This world was created for that very purpose, and everything that happens to you every waking moment is to help us learn that lesson. Whether we choose to pay attention and change our behavior and thus our attitudes is up to us, because love means not replacing someone else’s will with your own, even if one of the parties is God.

If we, as a race of humans on this planet earth hurtling through space on some unknown mission, simply embrace charity as our guiding star, then we will be well off.

I would hope also to point out the complete futility of trying to embrace charity without embracing the embodiment of that attribute, which is Jesus Christ and His Father. Only He demonstrated through His life how we mortal beings can become full of charity. And only by focusing our attention and devotion to Him can we ever hope to be anything like Him. Again, it’s not a matter of piety, but it is a matter of charity. First, love God. Then love your fellow beings.

Let us, in this century, turn away from our petty cares and turn our attention to the true and living God, the God of Love. Let us hope to obtain for ourselves the trait of charity in our very beings.

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4 Responses to “21st Century Enlightenment”

  1. beyondtheotherside Says:

    yum yum. liked your post. God is great ! ;)

    But im kinda leaning toward that there is more to be done than just charity, not that there is anything wrong with that. Its a start.

    And charity can be done in many ways.. not only giving money or food. but by teaching or learning. discussion and improvement.

    Accepting different faiths and that they all can do “charity” even if they’ve never heard about JC ..

    but aye, I like. :)

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Charity is a lot more than helping the poor. Charity embodies the pure love that Christ has towards us, a love that isn’t conditional and isn’t earned.

      If there is another religion out there that is somehow able to teach about charity without Christ, I’d like to hear about it. As it is, they other religions seem to be doing a terrible job of it.

  2. beyondtheotherside Says:

    Islam teaches charity.

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