Last week, I was on an airplane to New York City. At one point, I started to flip through the airline magazine and this is what I found: page after page was filled with self-indulgences of every kind imaginable. There were waterfalls and fancy restaurants and fine chocolates and the newest fashions. Not once was there a message of self-sacrifice or service to others. I guess such self-sacrifice is not profitable.
The message of self-indulgence stayed with me. If we are bombarded with constant messages of pleasure, will we become a society that exalts this to a norm, in which pleasure-seeking becomes an accepted way of life? If so, we may stop examining the assumption that a pleasure-seeking life is one that is not worth living, if our goal is genuine happiness. When we stop such an examination and give in to pleasure all the time, we may find life to be rather meaningless. After all, what does one do when all the chocolates are gone or the trip to the hidden chalet is over and the new fashion is, well, not so fashionable any more?
Forgiveness as self-sacrificial service to others is a message diametrically opposed to the messages in that airline magazine. OK, so I am fuming at her injustice…..pass the bon-bons. OK, so I am enraged with his firing me……let’s go on a trip. Pleasure-as-diversion can hide the pain in need of cleansing. Pleasure-as-self-help may weaken the will to fight for mercy and forgiveness. One’s energy to be in service to others may weaken.
Hard work and pleasure-seeking surely can be in balance in a full life. The magazine did not give such a balanced message. That made me worry……for forgiveness…..for strong wills to give of ourselves even when it is not pleasurable to do so. May we never over-indulge in pleasure to the point of losing our way with forgiveness, which, in the long run, may produce much more happiness than one more chocolate with an orange center.