May 6, 2020

“We are moving! We are going forward!”

This is a direct quote from “The Future of Man” written by Teilhard de Chardin, Image Books, New York, 1959. It is the introduction of the first chapter and moves me every time I read it. I wanted to share as proof that matters pertaining to “Truth” remain pertinent through the ages. Teilhard wrote these paragraphs in Paris in 1920! 


CHAPTER 1

A NOTE ON PROGRESS

e pur si muove

 

 

THE CONFLICT DATES from the day when one man, flying in the face of appearance, perceived that the forces of nature are no more unalterably fixed in their orbits than the stars themselves, but that their serene arrangement around us depicts the flow of a tremendous tide – the day on which a first voice rang out, crying to Mankind peacefully slumbering on the raft of Earth, “We are moving! We are going forward!” . . .


It is a pleasant and dramatic spectacle, that of Mankind divided to its very depths into two irrevocably opposed camps⏤one looking toward the horizon and proclaiming with all its newfound faith, “We are moving,” and the other, without shifting its position, obstinately maintaining, “Nothing changes. We are not moving at all.”

These latter, the “immobilists,” though they lack passion (immobility has never inspired anyone with enthusiasm!), have commonsense on their side, habit of thought, inertia, pessimism and also, to some extent, morality and religion. Nothing, they argue, appears to have changed since man began to hand down the memory of the past, not the undulations of the earth, or the forms of life, or the genius of Man or even his goodness. Thus far practical experimentation has failed to modify the fundamental characteristics of even the most humble plant. Human suffering, vice and war, although they may momentarily abate, recur from age to age with an increasing virulence. Even the striving after progress contributes to the sum of evil: to effect change is to undermine the painfully established traditional order whereby the distress of living creatures was reduced to a minimum. What innovator has not retapped the springs of blood and tears? For the sake of human tranquillity, in the name of Fact, and in defense of the sacred Established Order, the immobilists forbid the earth to move. Nothing changes, they say, or can change. The raft must drift purposelessly on the shoreless sea.

But the half of mankind, startled by the lookout’s cry, has left the huddle where the rest of the crew sit with their heads together telling time-honored tales. Gazing out over the dark sea they study for themselves the lapping of waters along the hull of the craft that bears them, breathe the scents borne to them on the breeze, gaze at the shadows cast from pole to pole by a changeless eternity. And for these all things, while remaining separately the same⏤the ripple of water, the scent of the air, the lights in the sky⏤become linked together and acquire a new sense: the fixed and random Universe is seen to move.

No one in the world who has seen this vision can be restrained from guarding and proclaiming it. To testify to my faith in it, and to show reasons, is my purpose here.