In the last few months frightening national political and cultural concerns are bringing out unrest, dread and activism.
Lines have become more strictly drawn and hostilities harshly real and close at hand. Interest groups are emerging and public actions undertaken — from protests to mobilizations — to raise awareness, build active advocacy forces and seek political remedies.
Is it that the poverty, injustices and worldwide violence have just started? Or has a realization developed exposing what has been frighteningly dangerous and threatening for generations?
Various factors contribute to our dilemmas. There is a multitude of reasons that scholars and pundits expound on continuously. Such analysis and speculation provides employment and entertainment and some understanding. The challenge is discernment of what is reasonable and, more importantly, wisdom for dealing with what is happening.
We humans are compelled to try to manage events. I feel sometimes that is folly. An arrogance for sure.
Humanity’s varied faith traditions (and non-religious ideologies) offer informing explanations of the “why” of all events: the evil, the good, and the in-between.
Times are viciously troubling because of broader and greater exchange of information. With the present tools of communication and the movement of information, ideas and people this is a significant influence on our crowded and remarkably interdependent world. It need not be threatening.
And we have to cope with our personal life issues: relationships, work, and health in relative safety, for now.
Many, many of our planetary neighbors live in terrifying places and their being is a life-or-death situation without power or control. When the world’s troubles infect us in our privileged land, our being and becoming is near debilitating.
It seems a hurtful infection is showing increasingly and acutely worldwide. We are no longer immune. We delude ourselves to think we really ever were.
Spiritual concerns — ideas, attitudes, and behaviors related to identity and purpose provides resources for deep living — are critical in times like these. There are great and good traditions that offer help in our tending to matters spiritual as well as lessons from science, literature and from our lives on what matters.
I am persuaded that ideals such as empathy, gratitude, respect, courage and compassion are life giving and lifesaving and are universal and unifying. Communities dedicated to serving the discovery of such meanings and celebrating them are of worth, precious and vital.
There is a wide selection of communities of meaning: from rigidly ideological to refreshingly liberating. In times like these, getting with other folks who can offer love and affirmation matters.
Rev. Doak M. Mansfield is Minister at Community Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasco and has served as a U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain, Hospice and Hospital chaplain, and pastor of UU churches for 41 years. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.