BY APOLO CASTILLO JR.
SPECIAL TO ARKANSAS CATHOLIC
As a child, the challenge in life was to sit still. Not the easiest for a bouncy and impatient boy. Often, I would be told to stop moving, sit quietly and think about God. One time, I asked my mom, “Is there anything God can’t do?” She paused, and after a moment, she looked back into my curious eyes, smiled, and said, “Yes. There is something God cannot do. And that is to stop loving.”
In a world where the numbers of hungry, poor, persecuted, ill and imprisoned do not shrink, and the individual becomes more and more distant from others, finding love and happiness can be challenging — love and happiness with significance, at the least. Gradually, it seems Christian values are becoming absent in society. Entertainment is ever so distracting to our youth, and the tools we use to facilitate our lives can more often be used for disparaging activities. As humanity progresses forward, we progressively and unconsciously lose our unifying identity as humans, Christians and individuals to an idea of shortcoming solutions and pleasures.
We experience troubles generations before have never faced, or the same problems, yet morphed into a different disguise. Disputes spark from divergent ideas, triggering squabbles and poisoning relationships. Nowadays, you cannot have a productive debate without offending another, as if the goal was to step on each other’s toes instead of formulating a solution. In our country alone, schisms rupture in the fabric of our citizens, separating society into sects. Individualism drives our economies and nihilism fills the minds of our youth. The sense of citizenship is diluted by self-centered inquiries. Actions become superficial and only for the pursuit of pleasure.
Society has become enslaved to sins which fray our communities, stripping value from what we do in our lives. Technology in the past couple of centuries has completely revolutionized humanity, influencing the way which we reason and behave. Social norms evolve with the changing customs of our culture. Gradually, society falls into habits of sin, altering the way we interpret “normal.” None state the society’s sins better than Mahatma Gandhi: “politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity and worship without service.” These coercive acts can be seen in our world today, continuing to justify the lifestyle of pleasure and selfishness.
We have lost what should push us forward: to serve God, others and make the best version of one’s self.
With so much polluting our minds, is there not a solution? How can we strive to improve the morals of humanity? The simple answer can be found in the Gospel of Matthew: “You shall love the Lord, your God … (and) you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39) Simple, yet effective. If all people help love and help each other to become the best versions of themselves, ultimately society would overall improve.
Imagine humanity as an orchestra. Each person produces every note, every effect, every element of the symphony. Every part is necessary to produce the final sound. If a musician plays the wrong notes, the music would become unappealing to the ear. If a section decides to take the day off, a hole is left in the music. If the musicians do not cooperate and play in unison, the score will not melt into the desired sound. Only when the pieces conduct their task and perform in unity will the symphony produce the melody. Humanity is divided. Some do not play. Some do not show up or care. Others cannot agree with others. Why is this sense of unity lost? Our identity as humans, and even Christians, has been swallowed by our pride, our lust, our envy, our wrath, our gluttony, our sloth, our greed. We have lost what should push us forward: to serve God, others and make the best version of one’s self.
Musicians must help their peers out. The goal is to perform the final piece of music with minimal mistakes. Each section must hold their weight; each musician must complete their task. Without cooperation, the symphony would never blend together. Ultimately, in life, the goal is heaven. We must all work together constantly be in communion with God. My teacher would tell us there are three things to do every day: learn something new, help someone in need and carry out your responsibilities. Or simply, love others. If everyone demonstrated love daily, imagine the prosperity we would witness in our society.
Society commits sins which have become acceptable in the human eye. As humanity progresses, we allow sins to corrupt the symphony of our civilization to a secular world of pleasures. We should, however, never lose hope. We must remember the solution to society’s problems may be challenging, but simple. As brothers and sisters, we should work together for the prosperity of our race, leading to the ultimate reward: the Kingdom of God. If only humans could too, like God, never stop loving.
Apolo Castillo Jr. is a junior at Subiaco Academy. He attends St. Boniface Church in Fort Smith.