In this day and age, many people do not want to be identified or “stuck” behind a traditional set of labels, titles, or names. As a matter of fact, it has become a progressive push to go beyond the typical set of identifications or anything that resembles the past. Nonetheless, in this world that desires constant progress, pushing the envelope, challenging the status quo, and cutting-edge ideologies, we constantly want to “move forward” but we seldom want to look back and remember where we came from. We have spent a lot of time — as individuals and as a society — to make progress and move forward, but we often end up moving ahead too fast and have little to fall back. We might seem to push boundaries but we do not find proper roots for ourselves. We have made a desire to make a name for ourselves, but we have come to lose a sense of understanding and bearing of who we truly are. Hence, our society and many of us have become rootless, homeless, and do not have a place where we really belong or are loved. We have ended up being products of our own self-made beliefs but we have never understood, appreciate, or known who we are deep from within because we have been lost.
Perhaps as an immigrant, coming from a culture where the elderly are respected and expected to be a source of wisdom and guidance for young people, I, many times, get lost, dumbfounded, and cannot understand why some people are so scared of being labeled as “old” or somewhat resembled being elderly. It seems like so many people despised being called or known under the typical labels, titles, and roles of father, mother, grandfather, and grandmother! They spend a lot of time trying to find new names so they are not “typical” or “like everyone else.” They want to be cool, fun, attractive, appealing, nice, loving, and “like a friend” personalities instead of being role models, guides, teachers, and people who have moral certainty, fortitude, responsibility, duty, and principles.
I know people want to be loved and not have to be so serious all the time. I know we all want to be known and remembered, to be liked, and want to be sought out by others for being someone popular, “nice,” cool, or “wanted” by others. Nonetheless, are we risking becoming someone else instead of being true to who we are? We have certainly taught ourselves, especially our young people to seek others’ approvals, acknowledgments, and likes through popular means like achievement, success, wealth, power, prestige, or other worldly means. We have become people who lack courage, depth, and certainty because we have lost our higher calling and vocation. We lack a deep sense of moral certitude, no longer wanted to be guided by transcendental truth, live for something higher and bigger than ourselves, do what is right, be firm in our values, and live with the ultimate destiny that comes from God.
If you do not believe me, look at the “role models” or people who are being highlighted, covered, or liked by our society! Even though they seem appealing, avant-garde, attractive, or successful, and liked by many, their success is oftentimes very short-lived. What is often wanted by others are not the things that make popular figures happy. As a matter of fact, look at how many of our popular people are truly happy, content, and able to have true depth! What people often want and desire is not always the real source of happiness and truth. It seems contradictory but the only thing that will set us free is the truth and especially our responsibility and duty to abide, stand firm, guide, and testify to that reality.
We have a great responsibility to preach what we believe by how we live! As social beings, we learn from one another, and I dare ask how much wonder it would be if everyone sees the powerful influence to live beyond what can be seen, more than themselves, truly life-giving, and speak louder than words or apparent attractions! As a matter of fact, many of the people that we truly admire have a beautiful and wonderful way to speak life and truth louder than their very own words. We tend to respect them because they dare to live with truth, commitment, duty, and responsibility. We remember the lessons of our mentors, guides, teachers, or the people that we respect and admire because they instill a sense of depth, truth, and wisdom beyond themselves or what seems to be appealing or pleasing to the senses or typical human attractions.
Nevertheless, in order for us to truly understand, appreciate, and become people who can be teaching guides and sources of wisdom, we need to have a paradigm shift to look beyond what is appealing to the popular media and opinions. We need to find the desire and true joy of living for the truth with all its true freedom to not be defined, held back, or enslaved by the matters, voices, and opinions of this ever-changing world that do have any real depth, direction, or meaning. We have lost our moral compass because too many of us have traded true freedom and its responsibility and duty for the sake of popularity and being liked. We cannot give life because we have nothing real to give since many of us have become too worried about being acknowledged, attractive, or easily liked by others.
What has resulted and can be seen from our sense of being lost as a society and many individuals because many of us have forgotten to uphold the truth and its life-giving sense of freedom, responsibility, and duty to hand on what we have received from past generations. We no longer desired to be guides, teachers, and family for one another. We have allowed ourselves to live to be liked and to seek what is good by whatever is most popular and we have all left ourselves to be worthless, homeless, and restless. Many of us have become lonely, unhappy, resentful, doubtful, and filled with many self-doubts and insecurities because we have lost sight of who we are and what we are called to be.
It is sad, but so true, we have lost our sense of direction because we have lost what it means to truly love and be loved for the truth and to keep our eyes focused on the things that are transcendental and eternal! We have locked our older generations away from us because we have deemed their values and ways of life to be different than ours. We have lost a sense of tradition, continuity, respect, responsibility, and duty because we have lost the desire to be those who received and treasured what has been handed on to us and feel the sacred vocation and calling to carry on what has been given us to us as treasures.
We do not have a home where we can truly belong because we have spent a lot of our time building sand castles that look nice on the outside but have no real depth or foundations. We no longer want to be true guides, teachers, and anything that carries responsibility from the traditional roles and duties to hand on, protect, treasure, and teach our future generations. The nucleus of our society has been broken and fallen apart because we have lost the desire to create a home and family where we can grow and mature as God calls us to! We have built up many skyscrapers that are so appalling and amazing, but they also crumble and fall down very often. As a matter of fact, things come and go so fast that progress keeps us constantly on the move and changes, but we really have nothing that gives us rest, surety, and depth.
What is sad is that too many of us would have rather left and abandoned the truth and what gives us life from the beginning. Instead of changing our ways to conform to the truth and what really sets us free as we are in God, transcendental and eternal, it has become so easy for one to deny their faith or change to something that is more appealing and easy so they can get the message that they want to hear and do not challenge them to change their ways of life. But, you see? If we only live for ourselves, we will end up with our very own pitiful selves that have no real purpose, worth, life-giving mission, or calling. If we desire to live for the world to see, like, and be accepted, we might gain the world and the likes of others but lose ourselves — homeless — because we do not know where we belong or where we are going.
Therefore, let us seek to find the desire and effort to be and give something that is truly freeing and life-giving. Let us choose to hand on, instill, teach, and speak what is true, real, transcendental, and eternal, especially matters that come from and of God. True freedom and joy can only be found in He who created, loved, and desired that we become His children who are meant for eternal life and greater things than whatever else this world can ever offer! How wonderful it is to then create, form, and allow our homes to be a place where God and His loving truth be the center of our interactions, talks, prayers, and ways of life so we can help to guide, encourage, and support one another along the way.
This life will come to be passed and will go away, as with everything else in this world with all its short-lived trendiness and popularity. However, what will give us true freedom, joy, and fulfillment can only be found in the scope of eternity and the truth that comes from Him who created and called us to greater, transcendental, and everlasting life. I pray and hope that we continue to love, hand on, courageously and diligently embrace, and allow the love of God to be the life-giving force, compass, ruler, and guide that gives us true freedom. Indeed, only in this truth can we ever attain the true peace, joy, and love of what it means to be home and belong to the greater family of saints who are called to truly love and give one’s self in that radical, self-giving love of God for others.