Jason E. Fort
Beyond the Here and Now
When I hear the word 'Beyond,' I think of two main things; past this present moment (or in the future), and outside boundaries. I think that one problem in society today, around the world, is that technology has put so much information at our fingertips, we get obsessed with the here and now, live for the moment, and forget all about what is outside, or beyond, the here and now.
Please don't misunderstand me; I am not saying that we should ignore the present. I am saying that all of our modern conveniences have helped us not think much about the future or the past. It is very evident in the middle school aged kids I work with on a daily basis. Although I think that is a normal part of growing up, I think the problem is magnified by today's instant information and gratification. Social Media apps, news (especially news with agenda), sports, instant streaming services, and even the modern day conveniences of travel; gas stations on every corner with every snack and refreshment option under the sun...and you can get it all, right now!
But when I hear the word 'beyond,' I can't help but think of a certain character by the name of Buzz Lightyear. His quote, "To Infinity and Beyond..." stands out in my mind. And then that word 'infinity' gets me thinking about the past and the future, and another quote from one of my favorite movies. In the movie Gladiator, the character Maximus motivates his troops when he is a Roman general, by declaring, "Brothers...what we do in life echoes in eternity." We as members of society seem to have grown numb to the fact that if we obsess over the 'here and now,' we lose sight of both the future and the past.
From a self-defense perspective, if I only focus on what is right in front of me, sure; if I am adequately trained or adequately equipped, or both - I might still have a chance to defend myself. But if I pay attention to my surroundings, and the path in front of me, I can see threats early, and be even more prepared to defend myself... or even avoid having to fight altogether. And if I have past experiences with danger, and the predators out there that might have wanted to do me harm, and survived that enconter - then I can use my experience to help me in the current situation. But only paying attention to the here and now, is what some people would call foolish, as it relates to personal safety or self-defense.
From an educational perspective, what exactly can we learn from the present moment? We can make quick judgements on our current situation, and we can make immediate observations and descriptions. We can enjoy the moment - ah, but that's it, isn't it? You see, never before in history has so much access to instant gratification, and pleasure, been available 'in the moment.' Perhaps this instant gratification and pleasure could be used to distract us from things like the future and the past...hmmm, there is some food for your thoughts. But I digress... obviously much more can be learned from an educational perspective, when we look back at the past experiences of others (other peoples/ nations/ groups, causes, events, etc), and then apply such important information when planning for the future, or even - setting goals for the future.
From a spiritual perspective, if we only live for the moment, what good does that do for where I intend to spend eternity? Obviously, if you are an atheist, this doesn't really mean anything to you, so you can ignore this whole paragraph. But for those of any faith, eternity is all about the future. What decisions can one even hope to make to impact their future, if they are only concentrating on the 'here and now?' And of course, as a Christian, we are to always look forward to eternity with our Father in Heaven... and in order to do that, we have to learn about what Jesus Christ did for us in the past. I don't know about you, but eternal damnation has awful promises attached to it; I think I will look forward to Christ's return. And if you don't know what happened to bring other Christians to a similar thought process, might I suggest opening the Bible. That is not a sarcastic statement; I mean you really should, if curiosity has you thinking beyond this current moment.
If you're not religious, then let's look at this from a secular perspective. For you, personally, do you care about others around you? If so, then it is time to put the cell phone away for a minute, and stop taking so many selfies. It is time to take a look at the people 'beyond' your current position, and think about how your presence affects those people. What can you do to impact any one of those people, in a positive way, in the future? What can you teach someone, to help them in their current situation, to learn from your experiences in the past? Have you wondered where you came from? What about your family? Have you ever wondered why certain people you know or have known, think or thought the way they do? You have to step outside yourself to find out such things. Our culture has unfortunately become self-absorbed due to the convenience of so much information at our fingertips. We can still enjoy those luxuries. We can still use such convenient tools to help us learn.
But every now and then, perhaps we all need to unplug. Perhaps we need to step away from the mirror. Perhaps we need to pick our eyes up and gaze into the eyes of our neighbor. Whether you are religious or not, if we all want to love our neighbor, we might just have to be willing to learn from our past, enjoy the moment, and plan for the future. Take positive steps in all three fields of time, and see just how much better the world can be.
My little Words of Wisdom for today -
God bless you all.