Editor’s note: This is the first of two articles on what matters and what is real.
Besides the Ensign, we only take two magazines these days: The Economist, which is certainly — in our opinion — the most thorough and well-written weekly report and opinion periodical, and The Week, for a quicker summary when we don’t have time to read The Economist.
The Week has a particularly interesting and astoundingly pretentious subtitle or promo-line each week on its cover. It says: “All you need to know about everything that matters.”
The thought that comes to mind each week when we read that is, “Oh, really? Well what about faith, purpose, family, eternity and a few other things like that? Do they matter?”
The fact is that it would probably be more accurate for the line on the news magazine to read, “All you don’t really need to know about most everything that doesn’t really matter very much or for very long.” (Actually that would be an even more accurate subtitle for People magazine or for “Entertainment Tonight” on TV.)
The problem is that we live in a world that distracts us from things that really matter with a cacophony of tinkling brass and sounding cymbal, with things that don’t matter and that are scarcely even real. We burn up hours of time every day staying up-to-date on gossip, on trends, on style and on TV reality shows.
We are not saying that it is not important or valuable to stay somewhat informed on real news and well-thought opinion, but if we spend four hours a week reading The Economist (about how long it takes — it is dense!) we had better evaluate how much time is left over to study the Ensign or the scriptures or to be with our families or do work on our church jobs.
What matters? What is real?
Are trends and fashions real? Is materialism real? Are reality shows real? Are the latest talking heads and stock market analysis and news analysis real?
Or do they represent a kind of transitory reality that in final analysis does not make very much difference in our lives or in our happiness?
And is the greater reality within the spiritual things? In the scriptures? In our testimonies? In our relationships with those we love? In our service and our church callings and our love for God and for the Savior?
Now, it is well to remember that God himself sent us into this fickle and reality-shifting place called mortality. And we should learn to love it and find the best that is in it. Those who acknowledge only spiritual things can become recluses. We are taught to be “in the world but not of the world,” and that statement is best read as two separate admonitions that can both be fulfilled simultaneously if we pay attention to what is going on around us but don’t let it matter as much as what is going on inside us and inside our homes.
In our effort to fulfill our purpose and find our foreordinations, let us not forget to differentiate between what is “illusionary or temporarily real” and what is “truly and eternally real.”