The Paradox of Our Age/Time



In 1992, political scientist Francis Fukuyama famously argued that the spread of Western-style democracies and free market capitalism would become the final form of human government.  It seems a paradox that the economic and political systems that were thought by Fukuyama to bring peace and stability to the world are increasingly on the defensive—in Europe, in Asia, in the Middle East, in Africa and, I often think, here at home in America.

While musing on this dreary thought, I happened on Jann Freed’s recent blog on paradox. I will reprint here a portion of the essay she shared from ‘Words Aptly Spoken’ by former non-denominational pastor Dr. Bob Moorehead.  This 1995 essay—The Paradox of Our Age/Time—shines a bright light on many of the contradictions wrought by prosperity … and may help explain why so many cultures choose to reject a way of life that seems to offer material prosperity but spiritual poverty.

“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less.

We have bigger houses and  smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees
but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.

We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.

We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

How many of these paradoxes bedevil your own life? Are there any that you can change in your own world?


  1. Well, ain’t that the truth! I am as bedeviled by these as the next person, but choose to do things my way. I try never to hurry, reuse and recycle, gone gluten and added sugar free, and have read more books in the last 6 months than I have in along time. If I’m not on time, too bad.

    We have reduced our values and most of us seem to care less about our planet and how the next generations will live.

    • Mary Gottschalk says

      Joan … Your last comments highlights something that is missing from the essay … it’s all focused on the “here and now.” I’m all for living in the moment, but we need to take responsibility for those who come after us.

  2. He’s caught up in words expressing opposites hoping readers/listeners will get caught up in the rhythmic seesaw of easy answers. He’s forgetting the mishmash of diversity that fills the huge gaps in the turbulence he’s trying to create w/o focusing on anything specific. He really sounds like a preacher, y’know the kind who likes to hear himself talk and who really doesn’t want his audience to think independently. While there is the obvious in some of what he describes, I can point out the “untruth” and exception for every example.

  3. Mary Gottschalk says

    Sandra — I agree that it has a “preachy” quality to it, but sometimes the right image — be it aural or visual— hits closer to home than a reasoned analysis can do. Moorehead’s words captured my mood, and were not intended to be “the answer” to the challenges of modern life.

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