Human Kind Cannot Bear Very Much Reality
Jesus can bear more reality than we can. He chose to bear more reality than we can. He came all the way down, all the way in, all the way through. The reality we run from, he came to live inside. He looked poverty in the face. He felt the leprous skin on his hand. He smelled the offensive incense of false offerings. He heard the blasphemies of man. He tasted the sting of betrayal and death. The reality we cannot bear, he chose.
In Four Quartets T.S. Eliot said, “Human kind cannot bear very much reality.” We shield our eyes. We busy ourselves. Like dealing with a fussy child, we direct our anxious hearts to something else hoping for a moment’s peace. Neil Postman wrote about “amusing ourselves to death.” We cram our lives with TV shows and movies and songs and social media and YouTube videos and everything else. We can face the reality of others, as long as we don’t have to tune into ours. Inside each of us is darkness we cannot face, and uncertainty we cannot bear. It’s all points to, as Eliot says, “one end, which is always present.”
We cannot bear very much reality. So we go into virtual reality. Strapping on our headsets, we depart from this world to another. We fight fake battles and climb mountains of pixels. We bowl alone, our eyes wrapped in technology taking us far, far away without leaving our chair. The day behind us falls like a blanket to the floor and the day ahead floats out front but we can’t see it. We don’t want to see it. We want an escape. The darkness is too much, so we blind it with light from a thousand sources.
Our day is not unique, only novel. We have more options for distraction. We have easier worlds to enter and more roads to take. But we cannot, no matter what we do or where we go, escape the one end, which is always present. That future we fear is only a day away. The one end makes us anxious so we prefer not to think too much about it. We cannot bear very much reality.
But, of course, reality is where we live.