Mirror mirror on the wall
What do you give someone who has it all
More, just to be sure
I got what I wanted, so naturally I want more
What I paid for, entertain me now
All I want is more, cos I like it
Too good to let it go, keep it coming
Cos I want more, cos I’m not sure
What I really wanted, so all I want is more
Finnish rockers, Poets of the Fall are worth checking out. Take a listen to Fire and Lift
if you aren’t familiar with them. They’re like Collective Soul and U2 blended together. More (from which the above lyrics are taken) embeds a lesson that goes to the emptiest part of the human soul.
At a superficial level, there is a hint of spite in these lyrics; someone has more that we do, so we convince ourselves that they are somehow wanting, perhaps lacking a clean conscience, having acquired their wealth illegitimately. This is envy, gnawing obsession with something which is not our own. Even if someone did not earn what they have, that doesn’t mean the person who lusts after the property has any more right to it. When someone is defrauded, justice demands the property be returned to its rightful owner, not a third party who uses someone else’s immorality as an excuse to participate in it.
How often we hear that the rich avoid tax because they are greedy, all the while the one making these assertions is even greedier! At least the rich person merely wants to retain that to which he has a right. On what basis does the other person hold any claim to the property at all?
Descending to the surface of the lyrics, there is a social assumption that the rich experience a lack of satisfaction more than everyone else. After all, they continue to work harder and harder, to gain more and more, as the lyrics say. Aren’t they the biggest losers? They who have everything in the world and find all of it insufficient?
This is just another layer of contempt for those who have more. Everyone feels let down, though it’s the wealthiest who have the most opportunities to experience it. They can acquire and gain faster and so have more chance to feel unsatisfied by something they thought would provide peace.
Even the most poverty stricken will not experience lasting joy in finding food. Survival is not the same as satisfaction. Buddhism is entirely wrong, in this regard. To acknowledge the non-existence of the self is not to satisfy longing, but to deny it. And if reality doesn’t cooperate with your delusion, you have gambled everything and come away with nothing.
At the deepest level, the truth is that nothing material can satisfy certain longings of the human heart. The American experience is astounding; the greatest realization of material fulfillment in mankind’s history. Simultaneously the people have drifted into a panic of unsatisfied desire, thirsts both unquenchable and indescribable in materialistic terms.
Materialism cannot provide spiritual tranquility, and the deeper into materialism mankind goes, the emptier we are. We have every available opportunity to realize every conceivable desire and we are always left wanting.
Carpe deim, we are told. Seize this day, for you may not have another. Such romanticism is bereft of value. It should be obvious, considering the best understanding of romance… risk. Essentially, that philosophy is driven by immediate desires, because momentary gratification in the instant is all one has. One cannot experience the future, nor find pleasure in remembering the past. Therefore, all that remains is the moment, forever fleeting.
We search for an infinite ‘next’ in hopes that we shall find a place of peace which does not end.
The grass looked greener on the other side
So I tried to snatch myself from your hand
Here I am again, back where I began
Try as I may, I can’t get away from you
And all of these roads lead me to roam,
Bring me back home
Here I am again, back where I began.
As Pascal is famous for saying, man has a god-shaped hole through his middle, which can’t be filled with anything else. Ravi Zacharias has said, “The loneliest moment in life is when you’ve just experienced that which you thought would deliver the ultimate, and it has let you down.“
This is excerpted from Secularization, which is well worth a dozen listens.
For my own faith, one of the most powerful confirmations has been the accuracy with which the Bible diagnoses the human condition and human experience. Man continually seeks to replace God with something of his own choosing, thus implying that he determines what is true, placing himself as chief above all. Man continually finds everything he sets up collapsing under the weight of self-insufficiency.
Perhaps the greatest example of personal fulfillment in human life is in raising a family, which almost attains it.How intriguing that fulfillment of the self always involves denial of the most individualistic desires. Raising a child demands enormous sacrifice from parents, so the parents ought to have a level of distaste for the child (and some do). Yet, without the self-less love of mothers or the protecting might of a father, the human race would not persist. There is more here than the anthropic principle. The lesson is that evolution via the selfish gene is nonsense when compared to the human experience.
When the same old does not satisfy, and the novel does not bring peace, there remains only the immaterial to offer solace. The human experience cries out for an ‘else’ outside of this universe while we are told to be ashamed of having such thoughts. No contempt or condemnation from the elite intellectuals can repair the soul. Their taunts may confuse some, but most people know implicitly there is something quite odd about the materialist who fights as though he has a faith.