I have pretty much stopped watching the news, for a variety of reasons. It is depressing for one thing. Every day, life is challenging enough without the constant bombardment of “news” about mass shootings and weapons of mass destruction and massive crowds turning into angry mobs… or molested children or scamming the elderly or gouging those in need of medicines or poisoning the environment or…. We have come to understand that there are forces at play in this world over which we have no control. Forces that manufacture wars for their own profit. And control what we can or cannot hear and see on television – only what supports the agenda of the monied few who want us to believe that the buying and selling of wars is “right and just”.
It no longer matters who is king of this country or president of that nation. Or even despot or dictator (or demon?) of another. I can vote yea or nay on a local issue, and maybe the final tally will even turn out the way I think it should, but in the grand scheme of local things, my grocery and medical bills will not decrease, my children will not be guaranteed a better education, my taxes will rise, and my community will not become crime free, drug free, pothole free….
So, how do we “fix it”? Mend all this brokenness? Fill all these potholes? If I have come to believe my vote will not make a difference, perhaps my prayer will. Those of us who lay claim to the label Christian have developed some kind of image of an all-powerful God. So, where are the plagues of old to rain down on our enemies? Where are the fire and brimstone to annihilate the oppressors? How long, oh Lord, how long? We are tired of waiting. So were the ancient psalmists who cried out to Yahweh on behalf of their suffering people over twenty-five hundred years ago. Some things never change?
I suspect we often see ourselves as righteous, simply because we think we have not “sinned” as grievously as those evil, greedy, insane, SOB's who consider our existence a total waste of the planet's oxygen. And, if they are okay with stealing billions, then I can surely get by with taking home a tool or two from the shop where I work. If they are getting millions in tax breaks, surely it is okay if I exaggerate my charitable donations on my 1040 form. It is my lucky day when the clerk gives me ten dollars too much in change. It is not so bad to covet my neighbor's spouse compared to the porn industry, sex trafficking, pedophiles…. It is difficult to listen to “Thy will, not mine” on a personal or a national level. I want justice now. I want peace now. I want equality NOW! I am not asking for fame and fortune, for more than “my fair share”. How long, oh Lord, how long?
So, what should my prayer be? Prayers for my enemy? For those bad guys? For the same ones sending my children to die in some god-forsaken part of the world. And the ones pricing a life-saving drug out of my reach? Those supporting ethnic cleansing? Even for those “little guys” making meth in the basement of the house on the corner? Are you kidding?
It is easy to pray for those we love, for the worthy causes we hold dear. And the friends who ask for our help. It is not so easy to say I am sorry and to ask for forgiveness. To ask for the grace to resist those charmers with their shiny apples. To continue to pray Thank You after the dream job becomes a nightmare, after the windfall becomes a hurricane. To admit we cannot fix it ourselves requires a new look at pride and at humility.
But, maybe those are the prayers we are supposed to be praying. If the place to start to accomplish anything is within ourselves and with our own “creator” (whatever that image is), then cleaning our own house is where we begin. We need to stop asking, “How long, oh Lord…”, and start asking “How can I help?”. Then we can tackle world hunger and racism and greed and chemical warfare and liberty and justice for all.
Peace be with you.
Pray for peace, my friends.