Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Useless Things

What are the things that you regularly devote time, energy or money to which serve no useful purpose to you or to the people around you? In 21st century urban life we have more spare time and money than almost any generation that has gone before us. We also have a wider range of choice of what to do with that time and money than any generation that has gone before us. Given such spare capacity and broad possibility, most of us engage in a remarkable amount of useless things.
Back in the days of the Old Testament the most popular form of social uselessness was religion. People collected hand crafted images of different deities. They saved up their money to take part in vibrant and colourful festivals. They travelled to distant cities to visit magnificent buildings and share exotic experiences. There was often food, music, dancing and sex involved. Religion was a booming industry which swallowed up people’s time, energy and money - even when they couldn’t afford it. The problem was that the gods which were being worshipped were useless. In fact, they were worse than useless; they didn’t exist.
The people of past millennia were not stupid. If you could sit most of them down for a straight conversation, they would admit that their supposed deities didn’t necessarily exist. What people bought into was the fun, the thrill, the fear and - more than all those - the tradition passed down through generations. They worshipped those gods because they had always worshipped those gods, and everyone around them worshipped those gods. It is the very same reasoning that leads us to engage in our portfolio of useless things.
In God’s top ten top tips for human society (traditionally known as the 10 commandments), he advises us not to devote our time, energy and money to useless things. We may like to commend yourself regarding the second commandment, claiming that we don’t prostrate ourselves before carved images of other gods. However, whenever we devote ourselves to useless things which serve no loving purpose to us or to the people around us, we make the very same mistake that our distant ancestors made when they worshipped idols.
Devote your time, effort and energy to useful things instead.

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