Thursday, July 7, 2005

The problem with wanting more.

Everyone woke up this morning to news of the Tube bombings in London, and phones started ringing: family members checking in, friends discussing the news. Since September 11th, as one pal put it, we've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's terrible to say, but we all know that these 'smaller' attacks are not the other shoe, but are more like movie previews. Something to remind you that you're about to see a show.

In all the conversations, the question inevitably arises: What is wrong with people? Who are these people who are so passionate about their causes that they lose respect for human life? I don't pretend to understand war, and I suppose my hope that it could be conducted in a civilized manner, if there is such a thing, is a grammar school mentality. Still, the notion of blowing up bombs on commuter trains and killing people so far removed from the decision making powers that be seems entirely unfair.

However, as I drove to work this morning, that question, the 'what's wrong with them' refrain, bothered me. Are these people really any different than the rest of us?

We live in a world where satisfaction is always dangling just out of reach. As human beings, we have an insatiable hunger for things we don't have. The person on the bus stop wants a car; the person in the car wants a better one. When they get the better car, then they want it outfitted: cloth seat people want leather. Leather seat people want wood grain.

I'm sure there are people who would object to that line of thinking. They'd read that paragraph, and think, "that's not me. I'm happy with my cloth seats." But that's only because I haven't mentioned something that they want. Everyone wants something, and when they get it, they want something else. I am probably on the far end of maniacal desire when it comes to wanting something and wanting it now, but I have never met a human being that didn't receive a gift from the cosmos and then want to enhance it in some way.

Which then begs the question, when does it stop? When, as humans, do we look at our spoils and think, "I have enough." To judge from the state of the world, it never does. There is always going to be a piece of land, or an ideal, or a group of people, or a thing, that someone doesn't have, wants, and contrives a way to get. I want to commit that the next time I get fixated on wanting something I don't have, that I take a real moment to consider what I already own, and try to be content. I hope I don't fail.

Because if that's what leads to bombs going off in a London tube station on a workday morning, God help us all.

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