2014, A Vision Of Hope
My birthday, actually the day after, seems to be a good time to look at the New Year from the perspective of a member of the human race, the people of God. As 2013 came to an end I reflected on the joy brought to me by my relationships with others, on the good things that happened to me and to others in our country and the world, and on the horrors that still continue to plague a world and a nation in which many of us have recently celebrated the birth of the One we call the “Prince of Peace.”
Most frustrating for me has been the postings of internet “sound bites” which may are may not be true, and the angry responses of those who take exception with the postings, myself included. What is sad and damaging about this is that most of the people who post and respond are “people whom God favors” and loves. Friendships have been destroyed, communication has been broken, and the ability to hear the truth in the words and beliefs of another no longer exists for many people in our nation. Therefore, before we look at hopes for the New Year, I want to suggest a way in which this might be done that is more productive than what we have been doing.
How fortunate, then, that Fr. Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for my birth day, January 7, gives us a place to begin.
"What the. . . .Yes, And approach allows you to do, quite frankly, is to be non-reactionary and non-rebellious. You do not need to prove that your statement is the last and finalstatement, which is what the ego always wants to do. Rather, you just ask others to consider it.
Abelard and Lombard laid the foundations for what we call Scholastic philosophy. When Scholastic philosophy was at its best (in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries), the development of an idea proceeded by what the great teachers called the questio (Latin, “to seek”). Our English word “quest” may come from that understanding. The systematic asking of questions opened up wonder and encouraged spiritual curiosity
by drawing out pros and cons for answers to the question, thus refining the question itself instead of just looking for the perfect answer.
Unfortunately, in later centuries this practice degenerated to needing answers, and preferably certain answers. We moved from wondering to answering, which has not served us well at all. This need to be right reached its nadir in what we today call fundamentalism, common in almost all religions, and in most political discourse today." (Richard Rohr, January 7 Meditation)
With these reflections from Richard Rohr as a foundation, I invite you to walk with me into the New Year, with all its hopes, dreams, dangers and opportunities. Can we hope that our political system will magically correct itself and that everyone will “love one another?” No, but we can hope and pray that our representatives can learn the lessons that Rohr shared with us in today’s meditation, and listen and look for truth where it might be found, and learn from each other. And we can definitely not follow in their footsteps if they do not change. We can treat one another and one another’s beliefs with respect and honor. I would suggest that part of this will mean being very, very careful about things we post on Facebook or the internet. We must research the “sound bites” we post to make sure they are true, and when we do post something, make sure that it is something that can be read and discussed and thought about, and not just a “sound bite.” I will go as far as to suggest, even as much as I love Rachael Maddow, that we refrain from watching cable news and talk radio, that we read more and talk to one another more with the purpose of learning rather than “being right.”
We live in an exciting and very complicated world. The world economy will continue to become more and more globalized, regardless of which Party is in congress or the White House. Factors such as cost of labor, technology, lobbyists and lots and lots of money floating around will continue to affect our lives and our economy just as much and sometimes more than our government and political parties do.
What is important in the New Year? Certainly Health Care and the high cost of health care will continue to affect us all. I believe that health care costs will continue to rise whether “Obamacare” is successful or not. I recommend: that we strive to make it successful, keeping the parts that work and changing or doing away with the parts that do not. This will have to be a bi-partisans effort, looking to define the question and find the answer rather than trying to be right or get re-elected.
The deficit and continuing to reduce it is important, believe it or not, to both parties. As this is done, it will be by establishing just taxes for all and fair and meaningful budget cuts, while maintaining appropriate social safety nets to protect the elderly, the poor, the unemployed and the truly disabled. One obvious part of deficit reduction is the creation of new jobs to replace those lost to the recession of 2008, technology and the global economy.
Lastly, for the purposes of this essay, is Immigration Reform. The Senate has reached what appears to be a good compromise, not perfect, as no compromise can be, but a beginning. It is up to the House now, to work with the Senate to make this happen. Again, if we who are not in Washington can respect one another and hear one another, then perhaps we can encourage our representatives to do the same. Two points to consider: one, we are a nation of Immigrants, and two, immigration today is very much a result of the global economy.
Living on a planet of seven billion people is complicated, especially when the natural resources of that planet have been shrinking at the same time as the population continues to grow, and more nations are using them in greater amounts. But, we have a nation and a world filled with very intelligent and creative people who have the ability to Look at the world and say, as Bobby Kennedy did forty years ago, “there are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why...I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?
I invite all of you to join me in this Vision of Hope