Friday, June 19, 2009

Simple Living: Why Don't We Have Patience Today?

How many times have you seen children screaming in a store "I want it, and I want it NOW!" We glance at the parent as if to say "what are you doing to your child, can't you teach him better manners or at the very least, patience?"

Immediately following our corrective glance we proudly march over to the produce isle and pluck tomatoes, cantaloupe and peaches from their bins. Does it really matter that it is January and the produce is coming from Chile?

As we consider simple living, we must cultivate patience to appreciate the rhythm of the seasons and reap the benefits of health and peacefulness. 

A question about patience was posed to Elder Paisios of Mount Athos and his answer is what we need to hear again and again.
The current situation does not help people to become patient. In the past, life was peaceful and people were peaceful and had the endurance of the patient. Today haste has invaded the world and people have become impatient. In the old days people knew they could eat tomatoes by the end of June, for example, and they were not concerned about it. They would wait until August to eat a watermelon. They knew in what season they would eat melons or figs. But today they will import tomatoes from Egypt earlier rather than eat oranges which contain the same vitamins. You may tell someone, "Come on, why don't you wait and find something else to eat now?" But no, he'd rather go to Egypt and get tomatoes. When people in Crete realized that, they started constructing hothouses in order to grow tomatoes faster. Now they construct hothouses everywhere in order to have tomatoes available in the winter. They will work themselves to death to build hothouses, to grow all kinds of foods and make them available throughout the year, so that people will not have to wait.But let's say that this is not that bad. But they go even further. The tomatoes are green in the evening and in the morning they have turned into plump red tomatoes! I scolded an officer of state once regarding this matter. "Having hothouses is one thing," I said, "but using hormones to ripen fruits, tomatoes and so on, overnight, is going too far because people who are hormone sensitive will be harmed." They have destroyed the animals too: chickens, cattle, they are all affected. They use hormones to make a forty-day old animal appear like it is six months old. Can anyone who eats this meat benefit from it? They give hormones to the cows and they produce more milk than the farmers can distribute to market. As a result, the prices fall and producers go on strike, they pour the milk on the streets and in the meantime, we drink milk with hormones. Whereas if we left everything the way God made it, all would go well and people would have pure milk to drink. Notice how hormones make everything tasteless. Tasteless people, tasteless things, everything is tasteless. Even life itself has no taste. Nowadays, young people have lost their zest for life. You ask them, "What will give you peace?" "Nothing," they reply. Such vigorous young men and nothing pleases them. What has happened to us? We believe we will correct God with our inventions. We turn night into day, so that the hens will lay eggs! And have you seen these eggs? If God had made the moon shine like the sun, people would have gone mad. God created the night so that we may take some rest, and look at us!We have lost our peace of mind. The hothouses, the use of hormones in produce and in animals have made people impatient. In the old days, we knew that we could reach a certain place on foot in a certain amount of time. Those with stronger legs would get there a bit sooner. Later, we invented carriages, then cars, aeroplanes and so on. We try constantly to discover faster and faster means of transportation. There is an aeroplane which covers the distance between France and America in three hours. But when someone goes from one climate to the other with such great speed it's not good, even the sudden change of time itself can be confusing. Hurry, hurry...Gradually man will enter a projectile and with the squeeze of a trigger, this projectile will be launched only to burst open at some point and allow a madman to emerge! Where is all this taking us? We are heading straight to the madhouse!

Paisios of Mount Athos, Spiritual Counsels, With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man

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