I Wish I Knew

St. Casserole asked in the comments on a previous post when Pure Luck is going to get his own blog? He feels no one would want to read about the things that are most on his mind: the war, politics, peak oil, global warming. He tells me, "Your readers have children, and they want to have hope." He feels his world view is so gloomy that we would find his thoughts depressing.

I wish I knew how to solve the troubles in the world.

Some of the things that need to happen seem so straightforward to this mother. We all need to play by the rules, whatever they might be, and the punishment for disobeying them should be swift and predictable but not destructive. Boundaries must be clear and respected by all. Not all resources will appear to be distributed fairly, but everyone needs enough to get by and the opportunity to strive for what he or she wants and the assurance that it won’t necessarily come to them.

There are days I crave a micro-managing God. She would not put up with the injury people inflict on other people just because they have the means to do it. She would not allow it to continue. She would put the leaders in a room to talk and say, "Don’t come out until you’ve figured out a way to live together." And when this one said, "I’m willing, it’s his fault!" and the other said, "She’s lying!! I’ve been playing fair all along!!!" She would smile knowingly and shut the door and be willing to wait as long as need be.

I wish I knew. One thing I do know is that hope is not hope when it is rooted in ignorance. Avoiding the reality is not a way to remain hopeful; it is the employment of denial. And although playing computer solitaire instead of watching the news may be a more passive form of denial than denying the humanity of civilians living on the other side of a human-made border, it is still denial.

Snowman (aka #2 Son) plays the clarinet, and he wants to make music his life and his livelihood. He is about to enter 10th grade, and college is becoming a small part of the conversation about his future. Yesterday we watched a video about New England Conservatory, and I thought back to the time I was his age and told my father I wanted to go to Westminster Choir College. Daddy objected strenuously to the idea of anything other than a liberal arts education. He worried that I would never get a job.

My first job after college was bookstore clerk making minimum wage, and I never got much further (library paraprofessional being the high point) until I went to seminary. It is true that the English and History double major of the dim past worked well for me there. But I often look back and wonder whether I wouldn’t have been prepared for a job in a church music and found my way to seminary by that route. It couldn’t have taken me any longer than it did his way.

We don’t know how things will turn out. We can make some predictions based on our knowledge and our intuition, but we cannot know. Will Snowman become a professional clarinetist? Will he and #1 Son live in the attic forever in between musical gigs and acting jobs? Will there be any money left in the grandparental college fund to send The Princess off to do whatever appeals to her–to date these possibilities include psychology, ministry and, of course, music–in another seven years? Or will she need to walk to the local university because we don’t have any more gasoline and the world will have been radically changed?

I wish I knew.

But I look at them, and even in the face of diminishing resources, even in the deep sadness I feel about all the bad things people are doing to one another, even in the wide anger I struggle to manage about the needlessness of their hatred and fear, and even in the full knowledge that God will leave it to us to work things out whether we figure out how or not, I have hope. They are drawn to beauty, and I know God is working in their out-drawing and their in-breathing, and that around the world there are other young people just like them, and yet not like them, dreaming their own beautiful dreams.

Who will win? The haters and the fearers? Or the dreamers and the beauty-makers?

I wish I knew.

14 thoughts on “I Wish I Knew”

  1. God wins.
    Good post. i would like to read what he has to say, and frankly would a whole lot of others. Yes, I have kids, but they need to know the truth too, and so do I.
    Glad you went the route you went.

  2. I know just how Pure Luck feels. I spend so much time worrying about that stuff … but it’s not what I write on my blog.
    I keep thinking there’s got to be a way to use writing and teaching and parenting to change the world, but I haven’t figured out yet how to do it.
    The ending of your post (the last four paragraphs) is just beautiful.

  3. I suppose the truth that neither side will win, and the world will go muddling on as it always does, generating its massive tragedies and small joys, as it always does. Some of the changes that will happen will horrify us, and some will seem in retrospect to have been good things.
    But living through change is nerve-wracking even when you are not being personally flattened by its winds. Your children, and your writing, give us hope in our anxiety. Thank you.
    (I do think it’s quite funny that we both took our English/history degrees to a highly remunerative bookstore after graduation…)

  4. Your post reminds me that despite the chaotic darkness that constantly threatens our lives, there still remains a deep, strong beauty that holds the night at bay. We live in the gray tension between the light and the dark…but we are the ones who chose which side wins out for us!

  5. Hmmm. I’ve been pondering the same things, on large and small scales. This Middle East mess leaves me all torn up, but I just don’t write as eloquently as you English majors from Fancypants U. And death on a small scale has been all around, too. I don’t know where it all ends, but I’m grateful to this beautiful post for helping me to think about it. “They are drawn to beauty, and I know God is working in their out-drawing and their in-breathing, and that around the world there are other young people just like them, and yet not like them, dreaming their own beautiful dreams.” Gorgeous.

  6. I’d read PureLuck on whatever topic he blogged about.
    I worry about being hopeful. I feel faithless when I don’t trust the future. LD and I saw a sign “don’t worry about tomorrow. God is there already”. Ok. I like this but short answers to a long list of miseries doesn’t suit me.
    thanks for this, SB. You write beautifully about the stuff that matters to my heart. thank you

  7. Um, I don’t quite understand why we wouldn’t still have traffic jams if everyone acted in a Christian manner. Some traffic jams are caused by roadwork, some by trains, and some by accidents. Even if everyone was a courteous driver I think there would still be traffic jams.

  8. I wish I knew too. I do know that I have to make myself live in the light of what might be possible else daily focus is on all the angst which can hold us down and then we cease to even see what could be. I want my cup to always be half full, so I choose to see it that way. It allows me to dwell in the light of grace. Lovely post Songbird.

  9. encouraging your son to follow his heart, his music, is beautiful. the details will work out, and his educational path will carry him in a direction that will create an extrordinary man.
    keep listening to him and what he has to say. i wish all parents could follow your lead in that.

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