Our Materialistic Life Essay

Outline:

  • Man’s deviation from spiritual contentment
  • The result of spiritual decay
  • Our complete separation from nature
  • Man’s time consciousness
  • The wrong notion of civilization
  • The role of science in shattering the faith
  • Man’s maddening pursuit of wealth
  • Man’s aversion to beauties of nature

“Divorced from religious serenity and ethical sanctity, our life has become grossly materialistic. We have lost the spiritual fervor which had a divine power; mechanically conditioned we are wheeling round one and only one aim in our life – to accumulate more and more wealth, even by inviting spiritual bankruptcy”.

Wordsworth aptly lamented this state of affairs by saying that “World is too much with us.” Indeed, modern man is daily going farther and farther away from the sacred end embalmed vale of spiritual peace and contentment. His desires, which are myriad, center around his one and only one aim – how to advance materially, and accumulate maximum gain. And with this aim, like a machine having no time to pause and reflect. As Davies says:

“What is this life if full of care;

We have no time to stand and stare!”

The sole aim of modern man is to advance materially, even by means of cutthroat competition. He has no other pursuit, no endeavor and no mission in his life. The result is his spiritual and moral bankruptcy. We have become what T.S. Eliot has described as, “hollow men journeying ceaselessly and without any aim,” in the wasteland, where “the very breath of the wind is fatally poisonous”. Our mission in life is the accumulation of material wealth; our vision is limited, shadowy and dim and our outlook is much too mechanical. We have willingly preferred barrenness of soul to as spiritual life. “World is”, indeed, “too much with us.” Instead of serving humanity as a beacon of hope and serene joy, it has become a symbol of the approaching doom’ of human civilization. “Religion and ethics”, say Joad, “draw a distinction between the power of good and the power of evil. But for science, neither does exist any distinction between good and evil. At the most it draws a distinction between power and its absence. But the misfortune is that modern man has, delibeavenues of our life have been encroached upon by mechanical trends of the Machine age with the result that our out-look, itself, has become rigidly mechanical.”

The one glaring result of this mechanization of our outlook is our complete separation from Nature. Man, who in the past lived in the calm and tranquil lap of Nature, obtaining endless joy and spiritual relief, has become a rebel against his mother – nature. His only occupation, as it has become today, is to be ceaselessly absorbed in producing material wealth, Wordsworth, in one of his brilliant sonnets, has well said:

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“The sea that bares her bosom to the moon,

The winds that will be howling at all hours

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers

For this, for everything else, we are out of the tune

It moves us hot…”

Man has become too much time conscious. Indeed, punctuality is an essential attribute of success in life; but the maddening craze for struggle and work, which is the characteristic of our age, must be condemned. This tendency of time-consciousness, over-reaching its limit, has been the sole cause for the multiplication of our wants, cares, anxieties and misfortunes. Human life has become something have no other job but to move backward and forward.

“O born in days when wits were fresh and clear,

And life can gaily in the sparkling Thames

Before this strange disease of modern life

With its sick hurry, its divided aims,

Its heads over-taxed, its pulsed hearts, was rife.”

This fatal tendency to accumulate material wealth has led modern man to a state of spiritual morbid-ness. We have forgotten the real aim of our life; our concept of human civilization is ethically wrong. Civilization today has come to mean merely material advancement and economic and political advancement of a nation even at the cost of others. We consider ourselves to be civilized because of the fact that we have been able to raise the economic and material level of our age. Simply because we have increased industrial productivity and multiplied our economic wants by raising our standard of life, we think we have advanced in our civilization.

A civilization that nurtures man in entire indifference to the misery and poverty surrounding him, to the general stringency of life, to the dumb pangs of tortured and oppressed souls, and the lives submerged in the shadows, is essentially a negation of its guiding spirit. If we do not realize the solidarity of human community, nor have human relations with those whom the world passes by as slowly or lost, we are not civilized nor are we cultured”. Civilization is not a static pose of intellect or a code of conventions; it is the most sanctified attitude of life towards the higher and sublimer values that can both enrich and sanctify man’s vision of seeing God face to face.

Our present civilization has been to quote the words of Bertrand Russell – “subjected to be self-decaying and self-damaging convention of over-maturity.” Science has replaced Ethics, crude materialism has tarnished our idealism, hard steeled plutocracy has overwhelmed the realm of logic and rationality, a morbid thirst for brutish competitive urge has stifled the sobriety of modern man’s inner aspirations for exploring the avenues of spiritualism – in short, the entire facet of humanism, of which even “God himself was so proud” has been shattered and battered by the ravaging blows of our over scientific civilization, based upon an aggressive and violent, impluse, splash-dashing ‘mires of fire and challenging the very principle of humanity in vision of God!

This perverted civilization of ours has robbed us of our spiritual and moral values of life. We have become too much materialistic; we take all the phases of life as source of material progress. We have adopted economic and material points of view:

“The world is too much with us;

Late and soon, getting and spending,

We lay waste our powers”

In other words, we take civilization merely as a phase of economic progress. Palatial buildings, glittering and lighted streets, humming with gorgeously dressed men and women, fleets of cares, buses and latest kind of vehicles cross-crossing our populated cities do not make civilization. We forget that civilization is certainly different from material progress. Civilization is man’s sublime quest for his spiritual and moral perfection. It is the essence of man’s inner greatness.

Man does not live by bread alone. Accumulation of wealth is not the sole aim of human life. We have to satisfy our spiritual and moral urges, too. A life, given too much emphasis on securing material gain, is its very negation. According to John Ruskin, the greatest wealth of a nation is the happiness of its people. Muhammad Ali Jinnah the Father of the Nation also held a similar view of man’s life. According to him, man’s greatest endeavor should be a purification of the soul and establishment of a fraternity of making book “Unto This Last”, says that all ills that twist and fragment man’s life, spring from his over-ambitious economic motive. “Man has become uninterested in the finer activities of his life; he has no response to the inner values of life. He is over-occupied with one vocation, i.e., to pile up wealth.’

“Man has been reduced to a mere machine, ever busy in moving, rolling back, pushing itself forward, never ceasing but always grinding and grinding. To him Nature has no fascination, the song of birds at daybreak, the whimpering light of the setting sun and the twinkling stars of mid-night sky have nothing to convey. Like a huge roller, our present material civilization is engaged in rumbling up and down without any pause or relief. Man’s only aim today is to struggle for making his material life more and more material.”

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