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Hope on a Grey Day

It’s a gloomy morning in City By the Sea. Pure Luck says his body clock is resetting for spring. We’ve had temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s, the snow is melting, and this morning it is raining and gloomy. I suppose this is part of the Global Warming some people believe is not occuring (just like the evolutionary science that is a fairy tale and the moon landing that was a hoax in some people’s minds).

It can be hard to face reality.

We don’t like to look at hard things. Maybe we’re afraid of what changes in the world will mean for us. Maybe we’re afraid that what someone else has said about us has a grain of truth. Maybe we’re afraid we’ve been wrong all along.

Phantom Scribbler wrote beautifully yesterday about discussing Martin Luther King, Jr., with her 4-year-old son. I grew up in a geographical area that was pretty evenly mixed among white and African-American people, although you wouldn’t have known it by selectively visiting schools, churches and grocery stores. The people of color in my life worked in what I now know were menial jobs, and I did not know very many. I did not know, at age 4, any children of color.

I live now in a predominantly white city, but it has been leavened in the past fifteen years by an influx of immigrants from around the world. For #1 Son, most of the immigrant kids did not become classmates in his world of Honors and AP courses. At City By the Sea High School, the two cafeterias were not marked “white” and “other,” but in most cases the students divided themselves.

But for my younger children, it has become common to have several and even many classmates a year who were born in other countries. They take for granted that people are from everywhere, that “different” is just a way of being and not something to be feared, that we don’t all practice the same religion and that skin color is not remotely a factor in how we interact with people. Our schools have done an excellent job of moving students for whom English is not a first language into the mainstream. The Princess has friends from literally all over the world. They are a mixture of good and mediocre students, and that is what will likely divide them socially when they reach high school, as they are funneled into classes based on academic drive and ability. Dr. King’s dream of children playing together has already been realized at our neighborhood elementary school. My hope is that these young people will be sitting together at lunch five years from now at City By the Sea High School.

That would be good news, but is it enough to ward off Global Warming? Will it inoculate us against the disease of disinformation and give us the strength to resist being told that “hard work” by “heckuva” people is all we need to get by? I want a world for these young people that will allow them to bloom and flourish in community with one another. I want a world for these young people.

It ought not be 49 degrees and raining on a January morning in the Northeast. The reality is a messed-up world, a world that reacts to our human input and insult by heating up and melting down. It’s hard, as I mentioned earlier, to face reality.

As a person of faith, I hold onto hope, even on this grey day. I hold onto hope that it will not be too late to remedy the mess in which we find ourselves. I hold onto hope that among the children my generation has produced will be leaders who will bring about the needed changes, people who have grown up in a world changing for the better at the same time some of its citizens have been clinging to the old ways. They are growing up knowing that iit makes no sense to hate people because they look different. They are growing up knowing that gay is something some people are and not making such a big deal out of it. They are growing up knowing that even for those of us who believe there is one God, there is not one right way of being religious over all others. Because of these things, I hold onto hope.

My eschatological understanding is that we will reach a point of being able to see things as they really are: the fragility of human life and of nature; the need to care for one another and the earth; the futility of holding onto material things for their own sake; the rightness of celebrating our human existence by doing justice and loving kindness, as the prophet Micah put it, and walking humbly with our God. Even for those who do not name God in the same way I do, this last is important, and I mean that this way–I don’t believe that the capacity to do these things, to be kind and unselfish, runs deep in us. I believe we are wired to protect ourselves, wired to survive. The unselfish and the sacrificial come from outside us; they are transcendent, born of our sense of being connected to something larger than our own immediate needs. That source of supernatural goodness, for me, is God. And that source is where I locate my hope. I don’t believe it’s running dry. I don’t believe we’re approaching Peak God. But it may take reaching Peak Oil, it may take crises of enormous proportions, for humankind to recognize that our futures are interdependent.

In that crisis, we will need more than ever the source that enables us to care for one another instead of elbowing each other out of the way to survive. The fate of the world is in the hands of Sons 1 and 2, The Princess, LG and Baby Blue, and all the children we share with each other in our blogs. Having heard their stories, I have a hope.

3 thoughts on “Hope on a Grey Day”

  1. Our weather is different, too. My sister reports that yesterday was 70 degrees in NC.
    Your tie of MLK Jr., weather and eschatology makes sense to me and I’m grateful to read your post.
    I know why people are afraid for the future. We have to have hope.

  2. You give me hope, Songbird. Such gorgeous writing, such strength of perception!
    It’s a warmer world, for sure, but the January thaw has been an occasional visitor to New England winters long before global warming. I have a book called Historic Storms of New England, originally published in 1891, which describes temperatures reaching 60F in Salem on January, 1802, for example. It’s warmer in general now than it was then, but the pattern is not a new one.

  3. I am thinking about these things, too, a I sit in a 45 degrees F, snowless, January Snow Belt morning. Thank you for so beautifully articulating this.

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