Our present era can be characterized as an “age of hedonism” that has produced a society of people who are focused on meaningless and secular fulfillment. This age has created a cycle of behaving where “the most popular response to the lack of meaning and the emptiness of life seems to be one of a highly intensified personal hedonism: an orgy of individual gratification in the form of consumerism; heavy reliance on sex, drugs, and music for release and distraction; and a never-ending pursuit of still greater heights of pleasure (Purpel, 1989, p. 23).”
We are in an age when the television has become a trough for the mindless appetites of excess, immorality, and self-delusion; when the military stands on the brink of impotency while special education classes swell with intelligent young men who are destined to fill the prisons; when the poor and oppressed are blamed for their condition while the wealthy and powerful divorce themselves from responsibility; and when “I” is more important than “we” and “us” no longer rings with humanity. It is an age of human fragmentation, where life is departmentalized and disconnected both internally and externally and wholeness is unwittingly traded for individual capital and myopic defenses. Our present moment in history marks a point where intellectual peace is disregarded for hedonistic endeavors and truth is buried so as not to acknowledge the anguish of others. It is indeed a time of spiritual unconsciousness where even the senseless murders of innocent Black men, women, and children could not revive the spiritual slumber endemic in American society from the lull of complacency, narcissism and profligacy.
What can we do?
By Dr. Stephen Hancock, PhD., Associate Professor of Multicultural Studies at UNC Charlotte
Part 2 coming soon!