The modern world paradox - M Zeb Khan - Wednesday, April 06, 2011

While reading a book on ‘Developing Management Skills’, I got hold of an interesting and thought-provoking write-up on the paradoxical nature of the modern world written by Dr Bob Moorehead. I reproduce it for readers to reflect on it for the sake of resolving the tacit conflict which goes on between human nature and material progress.

“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways but narrower viewpoints. We spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences but less time. We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment; more experts but more problems; more medicine but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We have learned how to make a living but not a life; we have added years to life but not life to years. We have been all the way to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We have conquered outer space but not inner space. We have done larger things but not better things. We have cleaned up the air but polluted the soul. We have split the atom but not our prejudice. We write more but learn less. We plan more but accomplish less. We have learned to rush but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever but have less communication. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men and short character; steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace and domestic warfare; more leisure but less fun; more kinds of food but less nutrition. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, of fancier houses but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill. It is time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom.”

The above lines show that something important is missing from the equation of human life and that to me is maintaining a ‘balance’ between material progress and human relationships. The suffering of humanity today is due to ‘alienation’ from the self and from others. Building sustainable relationships require reviving values such as freedom, dignity, trust, love, and honesty through a cultural transformation.

The writer is Assistant Professor at FAST-NU, Peshawar. Email:

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