Live Tomorrow’s Life Today
Pentecost 4, Proper 8, Year A
Which one is true: Out of sight, out of mind or Absence makes the heart grow fonder?
Which one is true: Birds of a feather flock together or Variety is the spice of life?
How about this: Don’t worry about tomorrow or Store up treasures in heaven?
The older I get, the more I see that either/or statements like these describe a range of human experiences rather than statements of fact. Or, more elegantly said by Thomas Mann, A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a truth. I have come to live in a world where I see things in terms of both/and rather than either/or. With all of these possibilities in front of us, how, then, shall we live? Will we live by default, or by design? Living by default means we take what we were taught growing up and never examine it for ourselves.
The best example I can think of for this is food. By the time we are just a few years old, we have been taught by our families, our cultures, TV, or somebody what is considered to be good food, what is bad food, and what isn’t even food at all. Insects – fried or ground into flour – are staples in many countries, and even treats when dipped in chocolate. If I find a worm in my salad, I’m going to feel queasy because I was taught that worms are gross, not an excellent source of protein.
So many of our assumptions about the supposed truths of life are like that: we’re taught something, and that’s our default forever. This is a great time-saver and necessary a foundation of civilization – every baby can’t be expected to discover everything all over again. We need to teach each new generation the wisdom gathered over the years. But the opposite is true: if we never examine our default settings, there is no change, either positive or negative. Right now, Americans are being challenged to examine our default settings in major ways. The way things have “always been” are not working for many, for millions. There is great opportunity and great danger in this challenging time.
How do we navigate it? The first is to be aware of our fears. Be very honest about those feelings: Fear of change. Fear of loss. Fear of not knowing what we’re doing. This whole year has been one long – opportunity – to name our fears, fear of contracting a new disease, fear that our social fabric is unraveling.
After the awareness and the honesty with ourselves about the fears and the discomfort and confusion those cause, I have a word of reassurance: human beings are very adaptable…
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