“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Charles Dickens would be hard pressed to find any who would say these are the best of times…
Despite optimism projected out of Scotland, the world’s top climate analysis coalition warns we are on track for disastrous global heating of 2.4C;
As a retired person living off limited assets I shuttered to learn that prices climbed 6.2 percent in October compared to last year, the largest increase in 30 years;
Action by bishops of my church individually and collectively bely an anti-intellectualism that is, sadly, not uncommon in other sectors of American society today. Many church leaders — not just Catholic — believe themselves to be sufficiently situated to make moral judgments about things they know nothing about and to distrust actual experts and professionals.
A former President recklessly undermines confidence in our elections while the Electoral College, equal State representation in the Senate, passage of laws to suppress voting and carefully crafted gerrymandering assures that we will be a “democracy” where the minority rules;
And there is Covid-19. No longer is there realistic discussion of eradicating the virus. Rather, efforts are directed at transforming the pandemic into a “manageable” epidemic.
Ufduh!!! as we say in Minnesota. There appears to be plenty of evidence to suggest these are the worst of times.
Wisdom broke through the gloom’n’doom in words spoken by Bryan Stevenson in the rebroadcast of a late 2020 interview: “The reckoning that has to happen in the country has to be rooted in a moral awareness, a moral awakening; a consciousness that evolves in a way that we begin to do things that we must do if we’re going to not only save the country, but save ourselves.”
Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, notes what we understand or forget at our peril… injustice, despair and violence prevail where hopelessness persists! Are there solutions for our societal and global crises? Do we have enough hope, confidence and resolve to believe we can do better? Do we? Really?
We truly do become that which we live and believe. Those who despair, hate, exclude or are consumed by fear and anger come to embody it. Scenes from January 6 flash through my mind. Those who truly dialogue, remain curious, build bridges, weave community, embody hope come to personify that which they practice. Teachers in classrooms, volunteers of all stripes, most local government officials, those who quietly do the heavy lifting of caring for others or restoring justice are among the many who call me to hope.
The future — if there is to be one — rests in our individual and collective hands. Will we reap a winter of despair or a spring of hope? Will ours be an age of wisdom, an epoch of belief? It feels perilously up for grabs.
The On Being interview with Bryan Stevenson and Krista Tippett can be found at: https://onbeing.org/programs/bryan-stevenson-finding-the-courage-for-whats-redemptive/
Credit goes to Brian P Horan, OFM for the insightful critique of Catholic bishops and other church leaders. https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/archbishop-gomezs-comments-reveal-anti-intellectualism-among-church-leaders