Hat tip to Brothers Judd
It is up to us to stop seeing Progress (which cannot be stopped by anyone or anything) as a stream of unlimited blessings, and to view it rather as a gift from on high, sent down for an extremely intricate trial of our free will.
The gifts of the telephone and the television, for instance, when used without moderation, have fragmented the wholeness of our time, jerking us from the natural flow of our life. The gift of lengthened life expectancy has, as one of its consequences, made the elder generation into a burden for its children, while dooming the former to a lingering loneliness, to abandonment in old age by loved ones, and to an irreparable rift from the joy of passing on their experience to the young.
Horizontal ties between people are being severed as well. With all the seeming effervescence of political and social life, alienation and apathy toward others have grow stronger in human relations. Consumed in their pursuit of material interests, people find only an overwhelming loneliness. (It is this that gave rise to the howl of existentialism.) We must not simply lose ourselves in the mechanical flow of Progress, but strive to harness it in the interests of the human spirit; not to become the mere playthings of Progress, but rather to seek or expand ways of directing its might toward the perpetration of good.
Progress was understood to be a shining and unswerving vector, but it turned out to be a complex and twisted curve, which has once more brought us back to the very same eternal questions which had loomed in earlier times, except that then facing these questions was easier for a less distracted, less disconnected mankind.
The human soul , or if you prefer the human animal, is still vexed by the same torments in the 21st Century as the 17th, only we now have more ways to distract ourselves from reality. Of course a lifetime passes all too quickly in the the blaze of pixels and wall of sound we are immersed in every day. Perhaps our unwillingness or inability to face the reality of the human existence is why so little great writing graces our age. It is not just that our skill with words has succumbed to our Instant Message and eMail style of communication, it is that our connection to the deepest needs and failings of humanity is crowded out by the historically incredible lives we live today. We not only cannot write , more critically we have nothing to write [i}about[/i]