Embracing the Chaos
Today’s chaotic society, which seems to draw our attention from big-picture concerns to minutiae, may make us want to run and hide. For example, consider the pressure that builds as we get ready for Christmas and compare it with, say, a family mourning the death of a child lost to a drive-by killing.
Is it a venial sin if I scrap the holiday tradition of serving Aunt Sally’s homemade monkey bread on Christmas morning because it takes two days to prepare and I’m overloaded with obligations? Seems so…the guilt feels palpable! There’s a reason for the uptick in travel South from North at this time of year, and it has more to do with weathering the proverbial storm of life than the wintry weather that brings freezing temperatures.
This longing for escape may intensify during the upcoming election year. As we struggle to discern fake news from legitimate reporting and cast off inflammatory rhetorical mud slung from all sides—all in an effort to grasp a smidgen of understanding about the real issues we face—exhaustion sets in.
Wouldn’t it be easier to retreat into our own safe space? To the areas of our life that are familiar—family, work, church, repeat. Can’t we ignore the bureaucracy that threatens to swallow us whole? Can’t we just turn off the TV, unplug from social media, and nix any conversations that beckon us to engage with conflict?
Though it’s natural to want to avoid uncomfortable situations, especially those fraught with upheaval, when we do that, typically we only succeed in postponing the inevitable. The reality is that a president and many other officials will be elected in 2020, regardless of whether we participate. It’s important to remember that our faith calls us to be informed and vote responsibly.
Many days I crave the simplicity of times long gone, even if that simplicity was a myth. When conflicting news reports didn’t make us wonder who’s telling the truth. When addictions and diseases weren’t increasing in severity and variety. When hope for an end to violence seemed higher. But those problems are the very reasons why we can’t run off. Those realities and much more are why it’s imperative we vote, participate, care.
I’ll leave you in peace, with the words of Pope Francis:
Let everyone be moved to look into the depths of his or her conscience and listen to that word which says: Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation.
—Vigil of Prayer for Peace, September 7, 2013