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A Material World

Joseph Tom Riach – Author of successful living books and mystery novels, vivid views of life and business

by Joseph Tom Riach


is the 4th of twelve articles for light holiday reading in my 2020 series of  Tom's Summer Shorts. The tales are a blend of my real life experiences, professional insights, personal views and fun stories. My hope is that in them you find joy and inspiration.


    We may be spiritual beings but we live in a material world. From our physical bodies to the planet on which we tread, the creatures which inhabit it and all that grows here are tangible entities, material if you like. But to the fabric of the natural world - the rocks, woods, earth and minerals - mankind has added, through ingenuity, invention and sometimes accident, new and wonderful materials.

   Concrete, glass, textiles, metals, silicon and the myriad other human creations are the materials of our civilisation. Our materials are, to a large extent, what allows us to behave like humans. Remove them and we are liable to be quickly confronted by the same basic struggle for survival as wild animals. Our clothes, our homes, our cities and all the other stuff which we animate through our customs, language and humour are not merely a display of our technological wizardry, they are part of who we are.

   From the coffee cup to the Kodak camera, stainless steel and paper clips; from ancient technologies of fabrics and ceramics to today's self-healing metals and bionic implants - we invented them and made them. They in turn make us who we are. Don't think so? Visit a war torn area or disaster zone!

   This fundamental importance of materials to us becomes apparent in the names we have given to the ages of civilisation – eg Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age - with each new era of human existence being brought about by a new material. Will current times be known as the Silcon Age?

   Steel was the defining material of the Victorian era; architects used sheet glass and structural steel to produce skyscrapers that invented city life as we know it; product and fashion designers adopted plastics and used them to transform our homes and dress; polymers were used to produce celluloid and bring about the cinema, the biggest change ever in visual culture; aluminium and nickel super-alloys led to jet engines and worldwide cheap flight; and our bodies can be redefined by silicon, ceramics, plastics and tungsten - yes, materials maketh the man!

   This should not, however, distract from the reality that we are spiritual beings. Our spiritual wellbeing is far more important than the simply material. Without it we are greatly diminished as human beings. Those who pursue material wealth to the exclusion of all else are without soul. They risk never experiencing inner serenity, only shallow and short-lived carnal pleasure.

   So make spiritual wealth the bedrock of your existence. First and foremost strive to understand and follow the spiritual laws. These demand that you seek inner peace through helping others. With that belief in place and functioning, then you are well placed to explore and enjoy things material. This perfectly natural marriage of the spiritual with the material, allows for the creation of technology beneficial to mankind which both enhances the general wellbeing and satisfies the inventive and innovative urges of the species. Everything becomes possible.

   You can even build heaven here on earth - spiritually and materially!

 I am Tom Riach. I live and write in the sunny south of Portugal. 

My latest novel is 'Too Early For A Glass Of Wine?' Claim your copy by clicking on the image below.

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A MATERIAL WORLD  is an original copyright Tom Riach feature.
I hope you enjoyed this Summer Short and found it to be of value.
To learn more please visit me on my Author Page.
See you there! Regards, Tom.

© Copyright Joseph T.Riach 1998-present. All rights reserved.
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  • Active Member
    Thank you Tom the article is both interesting and informative. I can see how we are defined by the inventions of the Eras we live in. Silicone could certainly define this Era. Material things can outlast us, but life is fleeting, there is nothing with a price that can replace one moment. A lesson I learned from wisdom. Those who pursue material wealth to the exclusion of all things, should be avoided like the plague.
  • Top Member
    Very good thoughts Tom. I appreciate this statement "So make spiritual wealth the bedrock of your existence. First and foremost strive to understand and follow the spiritual laws." You summed it up nicely.
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