It is generally believed that the more we are in control – of our health and wellbeing, for example, our financial and economic security, relationships and professional and personal goals, the more satisfying and fulfilling life will be. Certainly it would be great if we could control life; plan, manage, allow nothing to slip into any cracks and simply chart out what we want it to be.
Unfortunately that is only an illusion. We can control the choices we make but we need to come to terms with the truth that we cannot control consequences. Neither can we control other people with whom we invariably interact. Furthermore, we make choices between alternatives and whichever alternative we choose we must be prepared to accept the consequences which may not be “our choice”. As it is said, when you pick up a stick from one end, you are also picking up the other end (even if it wasn’t the end you wanted).
It is the same with values. Our society values achievement, success, hard work, efficiency and so on because we believe the more we manage them the more we are assured of joy and peace of mind. True, we cannot admire sloppiness and inefficiency, or poverty and ignorance. Yet if our values are not in alignment with the natural human principles, joy and peace will remain illusive. When he addressed the US Congress, Pope Francis pointed out that technological, scientific and economic successes can end up haunting us.
Why? Because there are those human principles that transcend society and time that must hold our personal and social values and pursuits together in order to find fulfillment and wholeness . When we see fellow human beings as resources or obstacles for example, and relationships become transactional rather than transformational, joy and peace become illusions.
Our purpose therefore is to find that balance and to be grounded on it.