Our material prosperity is unprecedented and seems impervious to misfortune, but the materialism ignores the spiritual nature and needs of men. A materialistic society fixates on pleasure and comfort and disregards the spiritual nature of men, their desires for perfection, heroism or sanctity. This materialist order, a result of the Industrial Revolution, embraces ordinary, useful and mundane life, and rejects the supernatural. We lose The Meaning of Life constructing a temporary, fleeting terrestrial paradise, instead of pursuing an eternal spiritual paradise ― living eternally happy in the contemplation of God.
Such materialistic society imposes wrong standards, because it replaces a metaphysical vision of order with a mundane vision. Pleasure and comfort beget the need of increasingly higher levels of satisfaction that ultimately become unsustainable and may lead to frustration.
Our materialistic society provides marginal happiness that masks the frustrations of melancholic people, and denies metaphysical, spiritual and supernatural realities. We must reveal the frustrating promises of material happiness that cannot satisfy the spiritual side of our nature. Material abundance is fading as a real economic crisis is looming ― The Exhaustion of Materialism.
A materialistic society eventually becomes a secular society, which shows indifference or confusion about The Meaning of Life. Secularism asserts the impossibility of confirming the existence of God; thus, man should disregard metaphysical and religious realities ― and behave as if God did not exist. The secular society inevitably leaves a profound frustration and desolation in the soul ― a spiritual wasteland.
Happiness eludes us despite huge opportunities for entertainment, pleasure and excitement, as the richer the society and its individuals become, the more expensive are the objectives that bring them happiness, and vulnerability to frustration likely increases, which may cause depression on some individuals and their society. Roughly 20% of Americans qualify for a lifetime diagnose of depression.
A period of economic expansion introduced material gratification in our culture with the rejection of the sublime, and the condition persists today. The absence of the sublime may cause depression, since the sublime invites men and nations to look towards higher principles, the common good, ultimately God to derive meaning and purpose of life. The sublime may spark loyalty, dedication and devotion to fill the emptiness of a spiritual wasteland.
The pursuit of the sublime is necessary, because our natural tendency for the sublime must find a means of expression, though sometimes it may be abnormal. Some baby boomers have found distorted outlets for the sublime in vicious lifestyles that destroyed their lives.
America searches for meaning driven by a natural desire for plenitude ― a sense of full satisfaction and completeness. We seek spiritual satisfaction and our souls are strongly attracted to plenitude, because we are bored with plain material prosperity and security. We naturally tend to the supreme plenitude of our legitimate desires ― the sublime ― encompassing transcendental excellence and the strongest emotion our mind can experience.
We are not satisfied with mere material security, for in our quest for perfection we also seek spiritual satisfaction, our souls are strongly attracted to plenitude and we keep pursuing it. Some people are capable of great abnegation and sacrifice in their quest for the sublime. Nations can also seek and appreciate the sublime, as social groups elaborate and appreciate, for instance, splendorous works of art political achievements, or deep mysticism.
The sublime may be natural, but its apex is supernatural, for the sublime elicits a driving force towards wonder and religion. Loving the sublime on earth is a preparation for the sublime contemplation of God in Heaven. Such a vision naturally gives religion a great meaning and happiness already on Earth.
Material goods cannot meet the demands of our spiritual nature with its plenitude in God, and consumerism frustrates spiritual desires drowning them in a sea of materialism. It would be ideal to base an economy on the premise of our quest for the sublime, which would facilitate unity, order and purpose.