10.04.2006

What's Wrong with the World?

I awoke this morning to the realization that there is a helluva lot wrong with the world. This much can be surmised from today's Drudge Report. According to Bob Woodward, the War in Iraq has been grossly mismanaged by the Bush Administration. A Republican Senator from Florida IM'ed booty calls to the young pages in his charge, and everyone in the District seems terribly concerned about how this will affect their political futures. North Korea, an uberdisfunctional country ruled by a Dear Leader, the world's greatest golfer, announced that they plan to test a nuclear weapon in the near future. A milk delivery man decided he had enough, and went to a neighboring Amish schoolhouse and executed five children, and the only thing more shocking than the crime is the uncomfortable feeling that this is nothing new, only another headline whose place on Drudge Report will soon be taken by another big, fat, shocking headline.

The two beliefs universal to everyone on earth are as follows:

1) There is a way things ought to be, a state affairs where all is right with the world, and...

2) Whatever that is, it is not what we're living. Something is terribly wrong with the world.

Everyone has a different idea about what is wrong. Social Conservatives blame a culture too tolerant of sexual immorality, embodied in Bill Clinton. Liberals blame the Religious Right and leaders who make ideological decisions and see the world in terms of black and white (they prefer the blanket term "Bush"). Ralph Sanchez, one of my coworkers, thinks that there is an enormous serpentine conspiracy bent on controlling the world, a shadow organization such as the Skull and Bones or the Knights of Templar that assassinate presidents and orchestrate events like 9/11 to perpetuate their power. Sam Harris thinks the problem is that humans in this day in age believe in God, and that all would be right if they didn't. I could go on, but you get the idea.

When invited to supply an essay on the question "What's wrong with the world?", the great writer G. K. Chesterton submitted the answer in the form of a letter:

Dear Sirs,

I am.

Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton

Chesterton's sentiment is echoed by Shakespeare ("The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."), and in Scripture ("There is none righteous, no, not one."/"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."). When we blame someone or something else for the problems of the world, it makes our lives easier - it absolves us of any responsibility for the world's fallen condition, and it implicitly excuses us from doing anything about it. When we take at least some responsibility for the problems in the world and in ourselves, and we take one step toward solving them. We take another when we realize that we are powerless to change anything for the better without God's help, and that we can't have that without Christ.

Most of what I just wrote I read. I know it in my head. Some of it I even know in my heart. I know I'm part of the problem, not just because the Bible tells me so, but because I know my own heart. I may not have shot up a school of Amish children, or hit on teenage boys, or mismanaged a war, and I sure as heck am not as good a golfer as Dear Leader, but I'm every bit as guilty as they are, and every bit in need of the grace of God. On a recent broadcast of Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor ended the News from Lake Wobegon segment with the following benediction:

We are all of us the children of God, put on this earth to do His work, which in my experience, mostly consists of kindness.

Lord, make me kind. Make me kind enough to love those who do evil in this world. Make me kind enough to love those I like, and those I hate. I pray that you'd make me so kind that I can even love myself.

Amen.

2 Comments:

At 10:57 PM, Blogger Kelly said...

Chesterton was a large man, standing 6 feet 4 inches and weighing around 294 lb. His girth gave rise to a famous anecdote. During World War I a lady in London asked why he wasn't 'out at the Front'; he replied 'if you go round to the side, you will see that I am. :)

 
At 6:41 AM, Anonymous sancheska said...

nothing is really wrong with the world. it is just not enough for all of us.
but it'd definately be a much better place if there were more people like you!

 

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