Complicated World

My earliest memories revolve around trying to please people. Learning to appease and placate..trying to find neutral ground, and not knowing what my opinion was on any given subject until that opinion was given to me. To dissent was dangerous- the middle ground of diplomacy was the path of least resistance. But, as recorded by men much wiser than I, “when I was a child, I spoke, reasoned, and acted as a child”- and now that I am grown, I still find myself sliding into that secure world of acquiescence-too fearful of waking up to a frozen and unfriendly universe. Perhaps it is just the angst of feeling like one salmon fry in a sea of lingcod. Holding onto the minority world view for dear life, and hoping, just hoping that God is truly the champion of the downcast and poor in spirit.
At this juncture of my life, discerning who are the downcast and poor in spirit is becoming much more of a challenge. We live in an overwhelming age of torrential information- which we have been taught to accept as absolutely authentic- especially if broadcast, or published and sold in bookstores. However, media journalism has demonstrated its predisposition to ‘bend the truth’ in order to drive the agendas of government heads and terrorist groups. Statistics can lie very effectively. Textbooks argue theories, and frequently present conflicting, contradictory ‘data’ and analysis. There are experts for anything and everything that is under the sun- especially for diagnosing the root causes for ethnic and religious conflict. No other type of conflict is as emotionally charged- because such conflicts strike at the core of our very being, our personal and family heritage and history, our values and our beliefs. In conflicts such as the one that we are currently living through- where Judeo-Christian civilization is being systemically challenged by an Islamic jihad, the stereotype becomes an attractive explanation, an acceptable excuse for outrage- except that stereotypes are just that. Stereotypes. The idea that ‘all Jews are rich’, or ‘all Muslims are terrorists’, or ‘all red-heads are bad tempered’, or ‘all lawyers are sharks’, or ‘all Scotsmen are alcoholic’ becomes a convenient way of brushing aside issues that we do not want to examine more closely- for fear of finding out that things are not the way that we had always assumed in our carefully constructed world. The stereotype prevents us from thinking deeply. When I think of stereotyping, I think of a self-help book written in the last decade or so that describes men as coming from Mars, and women from Venus. Perhaps this is simplistic- but then again, so is the stereotype. Stereotypes keep us locked away and inaccessible- unable to entertain the possibility that there are those who live ‘outside the box’. The politically correct view is not always the accurate one- and as we all know, there is an inverse proportionality to the relationship between the truth and the politics of any given issue. And then there is the heart. If my family hurts, I am going to be making a very loud noise about it. I have family in the middle east- brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. There is no easy answer to this conflict. It is only the grace of God that I am a Canadian citizen- having been born and raised to hate no man or woman. The ancient hatreds grieve and astound me to no end. Why is it easier to hate- to wish the total destruction of Israel- than it is to try to live in peace? Arabs and Israelis are cousins- why this senseless idiocy? The money spent on bombs and military equipment, and the compensation of families of suicide-homicide bombers- all of that could have been used to create an infrastructure so that the Palestinians could have an economy, a life. Death is much more seductive. No wonder God must weep. In this complicated world, the simplicity of the Good News is made that much more poignant by its desparate absense.

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