Standing at the precipice: A Sunday message

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Try as I might it seems the events of the world around me keep me from focusing on a particular teaching regarding the Lesson or the Gospel for the week.  It is safe for you to assume that I will not be touching on the specifics of those readings for this message.  It is also safe for you to assume that I suggest you read them for yourself if you haven’t already heard them read in Church.  There is much wisdom in both the Lesson and the Gospel for this week and it would be a shame for you to miss out because I can’t stay on topic.

Why can’t I stay on topic you may wonder?  It is because events have happened this last week which left me so dumbfounded at the current state of our society that I felt some issues that I have noticed need to be addressed.

This last week saw the horrific moment when Facebook was flooded with the images of a murder that took place only moments before it was broadcast to the entire world.  This act was one of such callous horror that it shook me to my bones.  What shook me even more was the frequency and enthusiasm in which this horrific video circulated.
It was given “viral” status and the murderer was treated with all forms of celebrity as people watched his confession video and passed it along to others.
On youtube there were even “reaction videos” done with youtube hosts reacting to the same confession video.  In a matter of hours it became common entertainment.
People focused on the shooter and mitigated the tragedy of the innocent victim.  Some who were equally as shocked as I at the reaction of the population reminded the general “audience” that the murderer is not who we should be putting the energy of our focus into.  The family of the victim was given scant coverage and has since been nearly forgotten.

While I was out at the store I happened to hear a couple of college age individuals speaking of the incident.  What I found curious and a bit disturbing is that they described the events like they were talking about a television show they were watching.  There seemed to be no gravity in their voices regarding the situation.  I overheard one of them loudly proclaim, “oh if you think that is crazy, there is a shooting video I watched online a few days before ol’ dude killed that old guy and that was REALLY bad.”

And there it was, in the mind of those young adults, the viral video of this horrific murder was relegated to a mere comparison of shock value.
I want to think that the feelings expressed by those two individuals were isolated, but the truth of our society is that it has become typical of the tolerance younger generations have to images of incredible violence.   I dare say my generation is no better in this regard, it is my generation that perfected this shock culture we now see as normal.
In some way, I feel that this mindset is starting to change our society and as a result we could in many ways be heading backwards, regressing instead of progressing.  It seems that while our technology has developed incredibly in a short amount of time, our mental maturity as a species has been left behind.

I have been thinking a lot about social media this past week.  I told a fellow seeker this week that I believed that facebook, and the absolute unfiltered content found in the freedom of the internet is a double edged sword.  On the one hand you have easy access to view material of all forms of horrification.  You can see terrible actions taken the world over, from executions to murder.  Social media and the unfiltered platform that is at one’s disposal has contributed to the suicides of bullied victims, the victimization of women by having their private pictures released to the world at large and it has allowed mindless philosophies (such as the Flat Earth foolishness) or hate groups to find root and appear to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the uninformed and/or paranoid masses. On top of all of that, our privacy is slowly disappearing.

Then there are the benefits of what we are given in this technological age. Communication is virtually unrestricted allowing humans to connect at a level never seen. We can mobilize for causes of Social Justice like never before.  Human rights atrocities are exposed to the world.  People of minority faiths, for example us as Gnostics, have found common ground and are able to communicate with each other across the planet in an instant.  People once in your life yet long lost are readily found again in social platforms such as Facebook.  Doctors can share information that has contributed to the saving of countless lives.  Information is shared and knowledge is accumulated at a rate never before experienced in the history of our planet.

There are great benefits and terrible consequences to this age.  People are being casually desensitized at a younger age than ever before (I say casually because we all know that children throughout history have been victims of all manner of atrocity.)  Unlike those victims of the terror that they were exposed to, children in our culture and our generation are able to experience these horrors from the comfort and safety of their home. All the while growing accustomed to the brutality and losing empathy toward the suffering of others.

I am not here to arrogantly claim that I have an answer to this issue, I do not have one, but I do witness what is happening.  I RECOGNIZE that there is a change taking place in our society and it is not all positive.

So what can be done?  In our current climate we seem to be at a loss for a viable answer to the question of ‘Where do we go from here?’
Censoring such a thing as the internet can lead to what you see happening in North Korea where they control every aspect of what people see, Knowledge is withheld in favor of control of the minds of the people.  That is a horrible thought.

So what to do?  See, we stand at the crossroads of two paths that our society can take…the path of enlightenment or the path of degredation.  Each reality is a possibility and in the infinity of our Quantum reality, both paths have already been actualized.  It is in the subtle intuition, the voice of God that reveals the way of life and the way of death.

As Gnostics we are called to bear witness.  But what exactly are we bearing witness to?
We bear witness to the reality of our Material Universe, we bear witness to the holy system of internal development that was given to us by our Master and Teacher.  We bear witness to this world as it is.  We as Gnostics must strive to not indulge the lesser self.  We must seek the light of Gnosis and overcome the animalistic nature that we have been born into.
We must see the changing of the world and state with clarity, “We saw the choice that needed to be made and we pointed the way down the Golden Path.”

We must witness to the world the better way, the way of Self Realization, the way of Peace, the way of Love.  We life in a polarized reality and we must stand as harbingers of the new way.  We must be children of the strict observance in the manner of the pursuit of peace.  We must strive to make the subtle changes within our own heart that will allow us to plant seeds of life within the garden of Humanity.

I have not measured up to the needs of our people, but I have recognized the reality of that need and I have taken steps and continued my eternal pilgrimage.
I have said before, God is only concerned with striving, with the desire and the serious attempt.  The internal Gnosis, the intrinsic knowledge from the divine, that we are to live a better way, and that we CAN live a better way.  In our example we will create influence.  We must take the first steps to change hearts because if we don’t, we will further witness the changing of our people into the nothingness of stagnation, and destruction creating a barren land instead of the great garden that we can nurture together, united as one.

In service to the Logos,
Msgr. Meinrad, n/OSC –Archpriest, Priory of the Rose Cross