This week someone commented his life had been lived in the best of all ages. As an American who has spent most of sixty years in the United States, I agree. I am unaware of another time or place offering greater privileges and opportunities. I feel blessed and fortunate to live in this country the last six decades.

I also am aware of the powerful deception the past fifty years produced. This deception expresses itself in many ways. The deception: we have the power to produce ideal lives. We think we have the power and intelligence to do anything. We can and will make it happen. Our dream of ideal existence will become reality.

Need a new liver? lungs? heart? Right now you can have a transplant. In the future we can grow transplants. Knee or hip worn out? We can replace them. Need an arm? a leg? a hand? They can be replaced; they may even function as your mind directs.

We can cure many of the incurables of forty years ago. With time, that list will grow. Severe respiratory problems? We can help you breathe. Heart out of rhythm? We can make it beat properly and a pacemaker will keep it in rhythm. Blood pressure up? We can control it. Blood too thick or thin? No problem!

We envision the day when computers can do anything. Cars will drive themselves. Lawn mowers will run themselves. Energy efficient houses will create ideal living environments. And life will become the ultimate in joy!

What is "the ultimate in joy"? Will everyone experience it? Can everyone afford it? How do you know that "joy" exists? by divorced marriages? neglected spouses? children who feel abandoned? earnings that cannot feed families? grief experiences? loneliness? emptiness? being an "outsider"? living lives of "have nots"?

I have experienced both expectations and realities. I know the expectations of labor-saving devices and the realities of their stress. I know the expectations of "wonder" machines and the frustrations of their malfunctions. I know the expectations of higher incomes and the realities of prices.

Because of the nature of what I do, I frequently see the "wonderful life" facade only to know the despair behind the facade. I know people who have everything but have nothing. I know people who have nothing but have everything. Commonly, expectation becomes cruel deceit. Commonly, the possession owns the owner. Commonly, people confuse pleasures with values. [Values fulfill; pleasures produce selfish people.] Commonly, people invest the precious in matters that grow increasing insignificant.

We parents sacrifice for twenty years so our children "can have it better than we did." Sorrowfully, often in thirty years we learn what our children have is not "heaven on earth." And "heaven on earth" becomes "hell on earth."

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 18 March 2001

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