Monday, January 15, 2018

I'd Like a New Year Please. I Think This One Is Broken.

Chaos (noun) 1. a state of utter confusion 2. the confused unorganized state of...matter before the creation of distinct forms               --Merriam-Webster Dictionary 

I'd like a new year please. I think this one is broken.

I'm serious. I'm wondering if 2018 is defective. Can I return it? Exchange it for a new one? Get a replacement? I don't want money back; just a restart. Because if these first intense, over the top days of the new year are any barometer of how the rest of 2018 is going to proceed, I'm not sure I can take it.

False alarms of nuclear missiles raining down on Hawaii and front page directions from the Boston Globe on "How to Survive a Nuclear Attack". A nasty nor'easter with 15 inches of snow then a polar vortex and then sixty degrees and then flooding rains to wash it all away. A commander in chief who reportedly characterized a whole continent of peoples and nations as one big sh**hole, but who then also humbly reassured us to not worry, because he is the "least racist person you will ever interview".  Thanks for that clarification. Upwards of 1,000,000 people living in the United States--"dreamers" (children of undocumented immigrants) and folks from El Salvador and Haiti---facing deportation. Or not. Or maybe?! An imminent federal government shut down but tax cuts, we've got tax cuts!!! 

Is it just me? I'm exhausted and we've barely put a dent in 2018. 

We can't blame this on manufacturer error. The Creator delivered a new year on time last December 31st, a pristine package of 365 days, ready for our use.  But the living of these days: that's always up to us and so far, the ride's been chaotic, wild, "meshugene", to use a favorite Yiddish word, meaning really, really, really crazy.

A big part of the problem is our media and cultural echo chamber. So a news item is breathlessly reported and then instantaneously parsed and picked apart and then commented upon and then re-tweeted and then blown up and then sent all the way around the world and then we all stand in a big virtual circle and then we yell at each other through our screens.

It is as if we are living in AN ALL CAPS WORLD ALL THE TIME!!!!!

With no time....for thoughtfulness or dialogue or a chance to decompress and think things through and just breathe. Nope. Gotta feed the beast. It's hungry. We're hungry, as news consumers, addicted to the rush of the next outrage or next calamity or next crisis or next social earthquake. And just when you think you might actually have a sense of what is happening, the next "big thing" breaks and it is chaos, again. 


The problems we face as a nation and world are serious. Folks who are hurting because of the actions and words of those who hurt others: that's real. Folks of good will and stout hearts and deep faith are called to step up and speak truth to power and demand basic human decency and compassion from those who lead us. That hope holds true no matter what the year: 2018 or 1918 or 2028.

Yet somehow in the midst of the chaos, we need to find a center, space, time to move through life and survive, even thrive, in spite of the chaos that can mark these days.  Maybe its just about being with each other more in the "real" world, putting down our devices and sitting at the dinner table, in the pews, at the coffee house, in a 12-step meeting, at a protest or a prayer gathering.  Maybe chaos is manageable when we remember the narrative of human history, the wars we've fought and won, the crises we've faced and overcome, the bad leaders we've encountered and sent away. Chaos is not new to the human condition. Maybe we believe that a power greater than us is in fact also working for the good, that in the prophet's words "the arc of the moral universe always bends toward justice."           

So it looks like 2018 is here to stay. No returns allowed. It may be crazy, but with 50 more weeks to go, my prayer is simple: that somehow we will find our center in the midst of all the chaos.  






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