While it’s true that we live in a rapidly changing world, it’s important to recognize that the daily changes we witness are changes in form only. The real substance of our universe, and of life itself, is comprised of universal principles. These principles, also known as axioms, truths, or natural laws, form the infrastructure for the stage of life on which each of us performs.
When the weather changes dramatically, as we’ve seen with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the universal principles (euphemistically referred to as “science”) that cause such radical changes remain firmly in place. Likewise, the economy may change, but no matter how much mischievous politicians try to manipulate it, the free-market principles that underlie the workings of the economy do not change one iota.
Even technology changes on a daily basis. However, our vanity blinds us to the reality that all new technology does is rearrange atoms. Video games and smartphones aside, the laws of molecular structure are the same today as they were in prehistoric times.
While all this may sound like an academic discussion, it most definitely is not. On the contrary, it has everything to do with the nuts and bolts of how you live your life on a day-to-day basis.
The truth be known, any civilized religion has built into it — at least through implication — the sanctity of universal principles. That’s because universal principles are omniscient and omnipotent. (Whether they are omnibenevolent is a subject for debate and beyond the scope of this article.) My focus here is on the importance of living your life in harmony with universal principles as the best way to retain your sanity and equilibrium in an increasingly insane and unstable world.
Everyone is familiar with George Santayana’s famous words, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Even a casual student of history is painfully aware that, notwithstanding how far mankind has advanced technologically, we continue to make the same mistakes today that our ancestors have made throughout history.
Nevertheless, when idealistic lads and lasses bid farewell to their clueless profs at Princeton, Harvard, and Yale, they have learned virtually nothing about the lessons of history. Worse, the pudding heads who were in charge of teaching them have likely perverted the lessons of history to ensure that these future leaders of our society will make the same mistakes as their predecessors.
The great Thomas Sowell explained it even better than Santayana when he said, “Everything is new if you are ignorant of history. That is why ideas that have failed repeatedly in centuries past reappear again, under the banner of ‘change,’ to dazzle people and sweep them off their feet.”
If you guide your actions in accordance with what you see and hear around you — particularly on television — you’re likely to spend your life in a state of waking dreams. On the other hand, given that you have been blessed with a human brain, you have the capacity to make a conscious decision to refuse to join the lemmings that obediently and enthusiastically follow ignorant, corrupt politicians and “save the world” advocates over the cuckoo cliffs.
My advice is that you neither try to predict the future nor allow the madness of the crowd to discourage you. Instead, relentlessly focus on the infrastructure of life and base your actions on universal principles.
In other words, concentrate on those things over which you have the most control, and rely on universal principles to work their magic for you. To the extent you do so, you will have a much better chance of leading a prosperous and meaningful life — during both good times and bad — because universal principles will never desert you.
Charlie Dickens was right on target when he said, in the very first sentence of A Tale of Two Cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
In other words, in substance (as opposed to form) today is pretty much like any other time. Before Kim Jong-un there was Kim Jong-il, and before Kim Jong-il there was Kim il-sung. Different names and different faces, but that’s about it.
Life is an endless loop of the best of times and the worst of times, and grasping this reality on a spiritual level is an important key to finding freedom and happiness in an unfree world.
Remember, crises come and go, but only one time in history is the world going to come to an end — and you won’t be around to remember it happening anyway.