“May you live in interesting times.” The origin of this phrase is fuzzy, but most often it is thought to be a venerable Chinese curse. Something is probably lost in translation. But one thing that seems obvious to me is that our time is interesting.
Interesting, in that there is tremendous and rapid change. Interesting, in that foundational structures are under pressure. Interesting, in that there is wide disagreement about how to navigate through hazardous social and economic waters. Interesting, in that how things will sort out is very uncertain.
While interesting times may provide excitement and opportunity, they also make us uneasy. We don’t enjoy the feel of shifting sands under our feet. We feel out of our depth. Businessman Steven Wynn said this week that he and other executives postpone risky decisions under these kinds of conditions. To the degree that his colleagues share his perspective, this deepens a recessionary cycle.
Have you ever wondered why our times are so “interesting?” Of course the factors are many. Some may look at our economic challenges as stemming from the burst of the housing bubble, created by federal social engineering and exacerbated by Fannie, Freddie, and big money players. Some may point to the size of our federal government as dramatized in the current debt ceiling debate (hey, if $14.3 trillion is okay, why not $20 or $30 trillion?) Others look at the gap in wealth between the richest people in our nation and the poorest and see massive injustice.
Our times are interesting for reasons other than economic. Moral relativism, corruption, illegal immigration, racism, and many other plagues are rampant. What standards should apply to the roles of citizen, spouse, or neighbor are questions that spur hot debate. You may disagree, but my sense is that there has been over the course of my life a noticeable degradation in all of these areas. Again, I ask you – why?
My answer is that we are soul sick. What I mean by that is that our problems, big or small, personal or collective, come from spiritual dis-ease. Among the symptoms are moral decay, insular, short-term thinking, and fear. How we got to be in this condition is too big a topic for this forum. What I’d like to focus on now is this: what can an individual do about it?
In the past I’ve put forth my 3 C’s theory – Consciousness, Creation, and Connection. I believe that our lives gain meaning as we grow in these three areas. When I think of spiritual healing, I think in terms of building these. Today I feel moved to take a closer look at Connection.
We need others. As proof, I submit that the most torturous punishment is not the death penalty, but prolonged solitary confinement. But we also need something more. We need Connection to the Source; to God. If you are a believer, you’re probably with me here. If not, this train just left your station. And that’s a shame, because back on the platform, there’s a distinct lack of good answers.
For example, not too long ago a friend of mine informed me that he’s leaving his wife and young children. In that conversation, there were many things that I wanted to say, but I knew that it wouldn’t help. He “had not ears to hear or eyes to see” because he is a staunch atheist.
Short a belief in God, there isn’t really a solid, compelling argument that sacrificing personal desires for the benefit of your children is the best course of action. People can rationalize any course of action that they want to pursue. Furthermore, there was no hope for him to seek and find Graceful redemption and healing, at least not inspired in that one conversation. So I felt rather hamstrung and helpless, just as I perceive him to be limited in his decision making palette. The long term consequences affect not only his well-being, but many others.
Connection to God opens us to a wider, wiser road. It also strengthens and humbles us. It allows us to see the paradox of our personal importance and insignificance. On our own, we are ineffectual. Connected, we can be a catalyst for miraculous change.
So my thought this week is this: Connect. Connect to the people you love. Connect to the people you work with. Connect with people you meet for the first time. And, above all, connect with God. Our times may remain interesting, but we’ll meet them with the awesome strength we gain through Connection.