The paradox – and sad irony – of our age, in a toilet

(Not my parents' toilet...)

There is a wall-hanging on the back of my parents’ toilet door.

I’ve always loved it, I read it every time I’m sitting on their toilet, and I’ve often considered stealing it. No doubt they would have just given it to me if I’d asked.

It is a quote from the Dalai Lama (or so I thought):

“We have bigger houses but 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 medicines but less healthiness.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more copies than ever,
but have less real communication;
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods but slow digestion;
Tall men but short characters;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window but nothing in the room.”

Amazing, isn’t it? It certainly makes me stop to think about the things we place value on and prioritise in our lives.

After seeing it in my parents’ toilet, I wanted to find out more. I googled it.

Big mistake.

Turns out, it is not a Dalai Lama quote, but was written in 1995 by Dr Bob Moorehead, a pastor in Washington. Oh well, I thought. It’s still a good quote. I went on to read more about Dr Bob Moorehead, and discovered that he resigned in 1997 following allegations of sexual molestation involving a number of male members of his congregation. His own church elders initially exonerated him but withdrew their support after his resignation, saying they had found new evidence of his guilt.

It is very sad, and a bit ironic, that such insightful and apt words about life and society were written by a man who exploited his position of power and inflicted such suffering upon those who trusted him. When I told my parents about it, they said they were going to take the wall-hanging down – they couldn’t un-know what they now knew. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said anything? Sometimes ignorance can be bliss, but I suppose wisdom and understanding has to come from truth.

I am trying to cling to the nature of the quote, which resonated so strongly for me, but inevitably it will forever be clouded by the acts of the man who wrote it.

My lesson is learned: Don’t trust what I read in toilets.

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