Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Middle-Class Self

A hundred and fifty years ago, Matthew Arnold, British poet and diagnostician of social ills, wrote a poem called “The Buried Life.” He said that we have a hard time communicating with each other. We bury the true self deep within, where it can never be seen. The face we put on for the world is a sincere effort at communication—but it isn’t real.

Love is the only key, he says, to true communication. Sometimes it happens, through love. When it does, we catch a glimpse of the direction of our lives—the buried stream—and we understand then where it’s headed as it winds along through meadows and hills toward the sea.

Arnold had some other pretty universal ideas. He said, for example, that the world of the future would be dominated by the middle class, a trend he was seeing already. He said that was good, except he thought the people would suffer from dullness in their lives because they would have little concept of the nature of beauty through music, art, philosophy, history, or literature.

Frankly, I think he had us pegged.

5 comments:

ts said...

I am currently writing a lesson on loneliness that deals with this "communication" issue. I think the problem is more fundamental than just communication--we will never have an entirely healthy social life until we have a relationship with God. The reason is that God created us to have relationships with other people and to have relationships with Himself. Without Him, we will always be missing something. Truly, everyone has a God-shaped hole in their heart.

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