I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but if I were, I’d probably resolve to get into less Facebook spats. Probably try to be less pessimistic and condescending. And harsh. I wouldn’t be as harsh online. Tone back my opinions maybe, too. Hell, I should probably just stay off of the internet for all of 2017. My gift to you. Because I’m tired, aren’t you? Aren’t you just simply tired of all of the noise? Like, I get it. The world is on fire. Trump will be our next president. There’s a genocide in Syria. A massive war on drugs in the Philippines where hundreds of thousands of innocent people are being murdered in the streets. Racism is not just hiding anymore, but proudly out in the open and accepted. Oppression, injustice, sexism, hunger, disease, global warming, white privilege, homophobia, pipelines, abortions, poor mental health…. Serious issues, for sure. Add onto that pile all of our personal traumas and stories of suffering and why do we even go on? Maybe we should just end it all now…
You know, 2016 has been an interesting year for me. The things that I have struggled through are very menial in the grand scheme of the world. My oldest son is failing second grade. I was rejected from every doctoral program to which I applied. I quit my job. We struggled (ahem, are STILL struggling) with money because I quit my job. I had ups and downs with my own mental health. I walked alongside of friends in difficult situations. One of our chickens died. I chased another chicken down the road. Compared to years past, this one, for me, was really easy. And I feel bad even saying it. Doesn’t it feel taboo in our current cultural climate to confess that you may have experienced an easy 2016? Because, while there are many things that make this past year terrible, it feels as though if you aren’t caught up in the online political melodrama and activism of the moment than you just don’t get it. The sad part, though, is that I’ve said that exact thing to people. I’ve both suggested and flatly said that not speaking up online for injustice (or pick any other from the list above) then you are part of the problem. Oof. I have a lot of maturing to do.
The activism of the 2000’s is quite frankly falling flat on me these days. Every day there is something new to be appalled at. Something new to pop up in my news feed and call me to action, critique, and anger. The 24 hour a day news cycle that constantly feeds into our lives has created a fever pitch activism and pessimism and anxiety that really has startled and pushed me away. There will always be suffering and injustice in the world. Until Jesus returns we can count on it being there. We are called to bring it to the light, fight it, and care for those among us who are suffering and trampled on. But the way we do it in 2016? With facebook posts and online activism? Constant IV lines hooked up to the New York Times? Forgetting about our own local communities and suffering of our neighbors? I’m just not so sure.
The funny thing to happen to me in 2016 is losing interest in liberalism. I’ve really come to regard it as something of a shadow, a false hope, an empty promise, a lie, really. Somehow American neo-liberalism has sold us the lie that we’ve arrived. That because it’s 2016 we shouldn’t have people suffering anymore. That injustice should be over. And that if time marches on long enough that progress will eradicate it. And then we wonder why we’re all so anxious and actually believe that 2016 is the worse year of all time. Or believe that the election of Donald Trump is the worse case scenario for the world. Christian, let me assure you that we will be alright. Do you believe that? Do you believe that you are secure? That the world is not destined for hell and fire? I struggle to believe it. I really do struggle with believing that if we just elect the right progressive people we will be okay and can ward off suffering. I’ve believed this for a long time. And maybe you don’t think that progressives are the answer. Maybe you believe that if we just elect the right conservative people that suffering and injustice will end. Whatever. Do you see how neither get it? That neither are right? Neither are the solution?
Ah, but I’ve lost you. I can tell. I’ve stepped on far too many people’s toes and have far too ridiculous opinions for you to even bother with this post or perhaps even with me anymore. I need to pick a side and stay on it. Well, I should choose your side, that is. The right side. Well, I hate to tell you that I’m not really interested in your side. I’m interested in Jesus’. And what he has done is the antidote for our broken world. His death and resurrection is our antidote, friends. I know you don’t believe me. Okay, maybe you sort of believe me, but only if we act now and vote this way and do these things in addition to what he’s done. Well, that’s heresy, friends. Jesus is the answer. From the beginning, the world has been moving towards perfection and an end to suffering because and for Him. Nothing else. No matter how you vote, no matter how many facebook arguments you get into, no matter how much you disconnect or protest, the entire universe is moving towards perfection because of HIS work. Once I realized this the way I see our political and cultural moment changed dramatically. The less I believed the lie that my political party sold me. The less I trusted myself and my work and my activism. So, I serve the poor and work to fight injustice with a greater hope. I’m less likely to be completely defeated and anxious by daily news cycles. Why? Because I know that one day, when the Lord returns, that this mess of a world will be completely new and redeemed, not because of my work but because of Jesus’. And that’s the gospel. That’s the truth. I can find joy in this mess of a world. I can have hope and not despair. And I can offer you that hope, too. Friends, if I can call you that, you don’t have to look at our world and only see despair. It will not always be this way. We are free.