Humankind Cannot Bear Very Much Reality - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Humankind Cannot Bear Very Much Reality

From John Gray’s The Silence of the Animals: On Progress and other Modern Myths:

“In the new capitalism it was believed that debt could create wealth: lend enough money to enough people and soon all would be rich. Real wealth is physical and intrinsically finite: made from things that are used up or rust away, it is eaten by time. Debt is potentially limitless, feeding on itself and increasing until it can never be paid off… the practice was a kind of alchemy… a way of creating wealth out of nothing… Wealth need not be wrenched from the earth as in earlier times.”

When I first read this I immediately thought of the passage from the Gospel of Matthew, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” How do we make this verse have the same sting when we make treasures in our minds that cannot rust? True, the treasure isn’t really there. One day it certainly all will vanish and crumble beneath the inevitable weight of reality, but until then our wealth, like so much else about our culture, is not real. It seems incorruptible.

No wonder the message of religion falls on deaf ears. We have no need to store up our treasures in heaven, for the next IPhone is only an upgrade away.

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