The Reverend Mr. Peace is a Congregational minister working in industry in Connecticut.
"What’s it all about, my life, my world?" I assume the question is as perplexing and inescapable to others as to me. And for what they are worth, here are two premises I find helpful in examining the questions of life.
1. For all practical purposes, we are living in an unfinished world, a world in process of being completed and understood by man.
2. Each person is uniquely equipped to participate in this ongoing process of completion and understanding.
That each of us lives out his years in an incompletely understood world is all too obvious. We are still seeking answers to fill in the gaps in all areas of our knowledge of the world and of ourselves, and each answer we find poses new questions.
But the incompleteness of our knowledge appears, to our limited understanding, to be compounded by the added element that we are actually living in a world which is incomplete—one that is still being "worked out."
To speak of an unfinished world may shock some. The fact of the matter is not subject to scientific proof or disproof, for it is of the nature of an expectant extension of the mind in an attempt to adequately comprehend the involvements of our life in this world. But, fact or faith, we humans are scarcely in a position to set limiting boundaries when accounting for the energies operating in this world.
Use any term you wish to denote the basic energies operating in this world, the gradual expansion of our knowledge only makes plain that each advance produces more unknowns and unexplainables to be pursued. Principles which seemed to be unshakeable one day must be revised soon after in the light of new discoveries which suddenly become evident as parts of our world.
Truly, the concept of a "developing world" may call for a slight re-alignment of our thinking, but even if it does it will serve as a more practical and dynamic basis for personal adjustment to the everyday experiences of our living.
It certainly enables us to slice through many of the tight limitations which have restricted our outlook upon the world. It opens up a better basis for understanding the many seemingly impossible experiences and questions which have been associated with the "once and for all" fixed structural conception of our world. For, to cite just one troublesome area, the difficult problems of understanding unmerited suffering and hardship may be found to be simply rooted in the imperfect, incompleteness of our world and its peoples at the present stage of the building process.
If, then, the world in which we live is still under construction, we who live in it are definitely parts of the ongoing process. Imperfect as we are, we are nonetheless integral parts of the present stage of the whole. We are "in," "of," and "by" the completing process. The abilities and personal equipment which we have are ours to be used, used up to the limit of our individual skills and situations.
As in any productive process, we may work for its success, "goof off," or, with a distorted sense of personal importance, impede and sabotage the process. Every one of us has a stake in the whole, and every individual counts, for only through individual initiative and action will some small part of the process be satisfactorily aided as, and if, it advances. We have the options of choice inherent in our freedom. Within the rides every person has the right to freely choose and freely pursue his goals. This dangerous harmony in diversity is essential to the ongoing process.
Like the little boy delivering an address at a school exercise in the Philippines, who after greeting the honored guests, turned to the audience and greeted them, "Distinguished Everybodies," we need to recognize that we are just that, "distinguished everybodies": everybodies who are here to help inch our world and mankind along nearer to the next higher level of completion.