One key battle for United Body is around the Culture of Comfort. I always like to look back at all the hard challenges that have come and gone through life and how each of them had benefited me for various reasons, even though they were difficult in the moment. Things such as getting my engineering degree, working out, renovating my home, marriage, etc. Each of them had been challenging at first and required a lot of growth physically, mentally and spiritually but nevertheless I would never have given them up if I was given the chance. Like anything, comfort is part of life; it is like food, like and money. In the right doses comfort is very beneficial for the spirit and refreshing. Taken to the extreme it isn’t. I will try to summarize a few key thoughts I had on this and how it directly impacts United Body.
I think we have to look at the evolution of human history from the beginning to where we are now (and this will be rather oversimplified so bear that in mind). When we look back to ancient men and women, what do we see? We definitively see men and women who were working very hard for their existence with men most likely employed in some form of physical labor while the women would have had the challenge of managing the home and children. We can appreciate that their lives were very challenging based on the lack of technological advancements that we enjoy today. Things such as: TV, fridges, medication, machines, computers, electricity, and so on. These things were absolutely foreign to ancient people. The basic tasks that we take for granted such as plowing a field with a tractor, was done completely by man and beasts of burden. I have had the experience in my life of planting and picking potatoes…very grueling. Most people fail to appreciate and give glory to God for all the comforts they have at their disposal but I think all these comforts can start another problem.
As mentioned before I am of the firm belief that comfort, taken to an extreme, is very damaging to the individual and society. Having well-earned rest is one thing but striving to have comfort at every instance is very damaging. I will try and explain as best as I can. When you work out or learn something new there is great discomfort, in this case physically and mentally as you begin to develop new skills. The great thing here is that it is through this discomfort that one grows stronger and smarter. As the saying goes, no pain, no gain! In a broader sense, lack of comfort is beneficial to us and forces us to overcome the discomfort, to grow and be better.
I think what has changed in the last century or so is how the idea of comfort has evolved into an ideal or life goal that people strive for ardently. As I described above, modern man and ancient man are very different. The vast amount of struggles for ancient man is no more with the advancements we currently enjoy today. So what has happened now is that for the most part of Western civilization we are enjoying an unprecedented amount of comfort that I would say perhaps was never experienced at any point in history. This may sound freeing but it is really damaging. Where once before ancient man had discomfort forced upon him by his surroundings, we hardly have these anymore. As a result I believe this has made us weaker overtime. Perhaps more “learned” but weaker in a broad sense since we have lost this external discomfort that our forefathers had to deal with. I think many may read this and may question why this is bad rather than good. Again, I make the claim that comfort taken to an extreme is damaging to the individual and society, therefore if discomfort is necessary for growth and with our advancements we have reduce the external discomforts to a minimum, how on earth do we grow to be strong men and women? I want to pause and say one thing: I am very specific in saying that some discomforts by nature still exist, that is undeniable and I don’t think we will get to a point where these don’t exist, rather I am making the claim they have been greatly reduced to the point where most external discomforts are minimal. I also want to state that the key person I am describing here is the average individual. One that is not extremely rich or poor.
There are two consequences to this new phenomenon:
- Without external discomforts applied upon us by nature, we are limited in the amount we can grow if we were to solely depend on external discomforts. Therefore, in order to grow we must apply internal discomforts upon ourselves to compensate for the lack of external discomforts that have been greatly reduced overtime to ensure constant growth. This applies to physical, mental and spiritual growth.
- If we do not apply internal discomforts in order to continue with growth, we as a society risk becoming stagnant and with time can potentially experience a reverse in growth that can span several generations.
The challenge for us now is that we need to actively apply internal discomforts in order to compensate for the lack of external discomforts. If we want to grow stronger physically and we live in the city, we will likely have to go to the gym and work out. This may have not been a concern at all to ancient man since doing physical labor everyday strengthened him by this since it was a constant external discomfort for him. This can apply to all areas of life: physical, mental and most importantly, spiritual. What I perceive has happened over time up to our current date is that we have taken the goal of comfort to such a high extreme that most folks are almost incapable of putting upon themselves internal discomforts of the highest degrees, namely spiritual growth. I think for most, applying and persevering in physical and mental discomforts is achievable since in our society we likely need these base skills to find a mate and to find a job but I believe the amount of effort focused on applying spiritual discomforts so that we can grow in virtue has all but been left behind. I would say this would not have been the greatest challenge for ancient man in that his external discomforts were his bread and butter, he did not need to overly apply himself to this because if he did not work he and his family would die. It wasn’t a question for him to apply internal discomforts in order to overcome some challenge in the field or mine, the external discomforts provided this for him and as a result he continued to grow.
I will also claim that ancient man’s challenge was still in applying internal discomforts in order to grow spiritually because this is always one area that we need to apply ourselves to in order to grow, regardless of where we are in time. Whether this means frequent reception of the sacraments, reading holy books, praying, etc. For us however, we still need to apply those same internal discomforts in our spiritual life but we must apply them in all other areas as well! If we lose sight of applying the internal discomforts in an orderly manner or fail to apply them to spiritual manners, the individual will suffer and be spiritually weak and if many individuals follow suit, the society as a whole will be weak.
One of the greatest challenges in United Body is inspiring men and women to apply these internal discomforts in order to overcome some of the greatest challenges we are dealing with spiritually in our times. Lack of faith, growth in heresy, laws that are anti-life and family, governments and education systems that are manipulating people and children, etc. The only way to even make a dent in this is by applying a huge amount of internal discomfort, to drive the will to make these things a priority and to be unified in order to take action whereby we can undo some of this great damage that is upon us today. The challenge gets only harder the longer and longer we wait to resolve it. The longer we wait to resolve it means that we will either need a handful of people that have the interior strength of a mountain to fight back or we need thousands or millions of normally strong folks that are united in one cause to fight back.
Do not be discouraged by the challenge and do not give in to comfort. To fix this we will need to work together and be united to undo and save our society from ruin. This will get easier when more folks get on board but until then keeping on applying internal discomforts in small things and never keep growing. Once we hit critical mass, there is no stopping the good that can be done for the glory of God.
Pray daily, for this will be your greatest aid.