Some people I knew introduced me to several ideas about spirituality I had not considered. They had advanced far in their careers and knew much about spiritual matters. Although I knew them as the years passed by, it was like many relationships, when you add up all actual moments of dialog, only a few days or a few weeks of time was involved. I never saw them everyday or even every week, but our encounters was one of great familiarity that I enjoyed. I was keenly interested in their perspectives and they gave me the benefit of their time.
One of these individuals exposed me to certain ideas about the true nature of the world. I can only summarize. God created existence with people able to freely decide their choices in life. As you go through this life, you are to put your ultimate focus on the life that is to come. If you ever have to decide between this world and the next, never put this world first. God’s plan is more important.
Further, there are persons who intentionally decided to put this world first. They make decisions for everyone else and often those decisions turn out poorly. Dark forces exist aside from God who encourage the activities of those persons. Also, there is a far more intellectual way of talking about this that me and these individuals proceeded through but I decided to speak of this more plainly. Basically, the world system as it has been organized is more influenced by forces of corruption than those that mean true good for everyone.
Some people have read the Book of Revelation or heard about it in such a way that they believe the outcome is a forgone conclusion. The thinking is you cannot change what has been declared. A line of thinking exists that if times are going to get worse for people, or some people who believe, then why put too much effort or hope into the here and now?
I had a sense for many years that life can be much better if people made another choice. I had not reached the level of theological nuance that would essentially say, “do good anyway while much around decays”. My view was different. Push for the good and good will follow.
In later years with the toil of life, my view shifted. I considered that if the world system of systemic adversity to people life and soul is so tempting that you cannot hope to see a different situation, then why be active in its change? You may prepare your own soul, but do not dare cross commercial, civic, and social boundaries that could see you more persecuted than you could ever imagine. Be at peace in your own life.
The Pope is leading the way in a type of activism that would see a better condition for people in the here and now. The visit to the U.S. was such a big deal because the U.S. is the center of questions regarding the shape of the world. The U.S. is ground zero for the future shape of pluralism and modernity. The reason is that the things the U.S. does becomes an example for many to base their own policies upon. Global legal and cultural precedent.
After some of the discussions I had about the overall topic, I slowly became doubtful about the prospects for a more beneficial change. That doubt transformed into an almost fixed view that while you can strive to do right and strive towards God, there are limits to what can be accomplished. The manifest force in this world seems stronger than expressions of peace. You may not give in, but you may not get far.
I think others were starting to drift in this same direction. I know some of a more earnest faith who had spoken to me about change in this world. I presented to them the same view I shared here about an entrenched world system in whose comfort we must not uphold higher than the world to come. Yet, I think the Pope’s visit will change many minds and stir a cause to influence life here and now to be more of what it could be.