Down the hatch: Greek philosopher Socrates about to drink Hemlock. Photo: SUPPLED

From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 8 August

August 11, 2019 BY

The plethora of ‘motivational’ and ‘self-help’ books, which flood our television screens and on-line booksellers, reveal much about the fragile state of our society.

I have never adhered to modus operandi of others, and I have no interest in anonymous assessments of me. Who would care? When an exciting job is up for grabs there is one thing only which motivates me. My ambition! It took a while before I sharpened my elbows. The logic is simple: If I don’t do it, some other buggar will!

Interestingly, all DIY pundits share a common denominator. They promise, rather like a snake-oil salesman claiming the wisdom of Solomon, to lead you to enlightenment; to help you find your true-self; to become a better person (whatever that means); and an instant millionaire (although these days it’s probably a billionaire). Audaciously, some of them counsel: “God wants you to be happy!” Really? How do they know what God wants for you? Did he tell them?  Philosophers, and skilled debaters, will suggest a questionable premise when you drag God into the argument. Given the impossibility of proving, or disproving, the existence, it is tantamount to playing Hitler as your trump card.

Our opioid generation, whether drugged chemically or culturally, has, since WW2, witnessed more suicides than in any other decade. Recently, sinners have been threatened with eternal damnation. We are, by nature, tribal and interdependent. We have, as a society become so lost, so dysfunctional, that many are reaching-out for any form of solace as a substitute for their loss of spirituality. The demise of community spirit has heralded an increase in proselytising and the rabid rise of fundamentalist churches. Setting aside belief, there is, within these congregations, a proclivity for a Reader’s Digest version of the Gospel; a re-writing of religious tenets and reducing Jesus Christ to the level of a glorified motivational speaker. Even if it were the case, there were others more verbose than the ‘Man from Galilee’. The Gospel – in whatever form it is preached, and by whichever split of the church – is not a compendium of maxims; nor is Christ an amiable motivational speaker, expecting to retire to Galilee, counting his royalties; although, some of his so-called churches are coining money in his name. However, is not a new phenomenon. Thomas Jefferson, edited the New Testament deeming the Resurrection and Pentecost irrelevant, and making the Sermon on the Mount the pinnacle of Christ’s teaching, reducing the Messiah to an aphorist.

We live in an age of materialism and entitlement. Success is measured by an accumulation of wealth. Poor indicates failure. It used to be called ‘keeping-up with the Jones’ but was never so rampant. Short of inheriting, or corporate stealing, there is only one way to become rich: hard work and a generous dollop of luck – in whatever form.

We are a visual society, obsessed with technology. Television news has reduced our pursuit of information to a pithy 30-second sound bite, supported by pictures – and the more graphic the better, thereby eliminating the audiences need to engage their imaginations, and dulling our sensitivities. Editorialising is commonplace. Gossip magazines peddle a diatribe of stupid lies which become acceptable truths. Slowly, but unquestionably, our feed of information is being dumbed-down; our minds numbed; a lowest common denominator approach to reading, writing, and comprehension prevails; the fear is an audience will turn-off if they are confronted by an unknown fact, or quote. Reality television is banality at its most insidious.

The Greek philosopher Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Deep-seated, destructive, personal unhappiness comes when we starve our souls of nourishment; become too inward-looking; and cease to question in the pursuit of the truth, and lasting internal happiness.

Roland can be heard every Monday morning – 10.30 – on radio 3BA and contacted via rolandroc@bigpond.com.