A friend (let’s call him “Wade”) wrote me this in reply to my recent post on this book I’ve been reading. I told him that I knew he was right in nearly every sentence.
I’m posting this (with his permission) because it speaks to something I’ve been feeling a lot lately: We’ve got to have more positive voices speaking in our ears. Next step: Mine needs to be a more positive voice.
People of my age and younger are professional cynics. We are gifted criticall thinkers, with the emphasis on “critical”. We can raise reasonable doubt about very reasonable things with no effort at all. Webs of the negative are quickly spun, and small people (like me) who could be actively creating small waves for the positive instead just get stuck.
Adding to the mess is the simple fact that deconstruction is fun! Who doesn’t prefer the sledgehammer-knocking-down-walls role to the careful and thoughtful work of constructing something new.
The trouble is that constructing something new is what’s needed.
And that’s why I’m grateful to have voices like “Wade” speaking to me.
In my life I have run into these bigger than one man ideas a few times over the years. My tendency, and I think the tendency for most people, is to encounter it, see the immensity of it, and feel immediately overwhelmed and a bit helpless. For some reason we think that we have to come up with some grand idea that is well thought out and pretty much guaranteed to work before we will do anything. And of course this very rarely happens. So we give up and say, “there’s nothing I can do”. We rationalize over time so that we can live with this idea that it is wrong, but somehow ok. Add to that the fact that we are immersed in the system and so continually bombarded with messages contrary to what we are called to what we know deep down is right.
I took a political science class on the environment in university. It was a very good class, looking at the state of the environment and politics relationship with that. It was one of the first times that I was forced to reckon with an issue that I could easily see was important, broken, affecting many people and very complex. I enjoyed learning about it, but after not too long I felt weighed down and paralyzed in what I could do to fix this. Pretty soon I was justifying my inaction with things like, ” God is in control”, “It’s all going to be destroyed anyway”, “This has to happen for Christ to come back”, etc…
What happened with civil rights in the south? A woman was tired of being pushed down, and refused to give in. Some people saw and heard this and it gave them hope. They realized they could do something as well, even if it was small to stand up for what they believed and try to stop the opression. Pretty soon there are lots of people doing this and change starts to happen. I realize this is a simplification, but it gives me hope. Hope that there is another way. Maybe I don’t know what that way will look like in the end, but I know something I can do right now that will move away from the current way.
If places like Wal-Mart engage in labour practices that are destructive- yes Jay I heard the intro to your sermon where you saw an ad in that store 😉 – I can stop shopping there. If I don’t like the culture I’m in that tells me over and over again that success and my happiness are dependent on things, money, and security, I can look for people who are not “successful”, either by choice or by circumstances. Small things, but everything starts small. Then look and pray for the next step.
I believe the Spirit that indwells us pushes us in this direction, we just have to learn to pay attention. And to take a step.