To some today, especially youth, many things have a one-year shelf life. Some need a new phone every year, for example, and the weekly “Business” section of the newspaper touts new brands and styles that suggest any former model is obsolete. Clothes hang idly in closets for fear someone saw us in the outfit last year. Apparently stability has become a relic from a past age.
Freedom, civil rights, debate, compromise, equality, pursuit of happiness, honesty seem to have had their shelf-life. Today’s style tends toward –isms that divide, cheap talk, off-the-cuff remarks, divisions. Are we developing a culture based on a lack commitment, because there’s no foundation in stability?
Shelf-life seems to be a by-product of secularization that forgets the spiritual dimension and historical meaning. Our shelf-life mentality is a form of amnesia. We forget the most important things in life have longevity and history. We fail to cultivate the memories, and in the process we lose our identity.
How can we respond to this phenomenon? First, keep community a priority. Give your ego and individual preferences a rest. As you pray, gather humanity into one Spirit, and remember you are part of the Body of Christ. Second, remember important traditions, as well as our Church’s Tradition and our nation’s tradition. Don’t let our Church’s and our nation’s best memories fade. Third, consciously make daily decisions that promote the best in yourself and in others. Don’t wait. You, too, have a shelf-life.