Not everyone is directly affected by the latest injustices or is a victim of a crime, but it is impossible not to be touched in some way by the absurdities and atrocities we see all around us every day. Who is not made sad just hearing of these things?
Unless a person is so involved in their private little pursuit of happiness and is too busy to even hear of what is taking place just outside of their own sphere, they cannot escape the feeling that something has gone awry in America, and the world.
This week's news is but a cross section of last week's, last month's or last year's news. This week we heard of a judge in Oklahoma who forced a five-year-old to testify in court against her rapist. After ducking under courtroom benches and chairs to avoid even looking at her rapist, the defendant is then given a paltry one year sentence for the rape of the child.
Next is the story of two thugs standing outside of a polling booth in the 2008 elections intimidating voters before they enter to vote. That being hard enough to believe, now comes the report that Attorney General Eric Holder has decided not to prosecute the thugs even after a video with full audio has been made available of the incident. Is this Venezuela, Communist China or Cuba? No, it is right here in America.
The third offering comes when we discover that the books of the activist group Acorn will not be made public to anyone including the media, the Justice Department or the IRS. Any average Joe with a salary of a meager $25K can be dragged into IRS hell in a heartbeat for an audit but Acorn gets a pass. Any church, Catholic or Protestant has to produce an accounting of every penny spent under their 501-C exemption but Acorn can spread untold millions around without a question. This double standard puts Martha Stewart in a class with Mother Theresa and makes Bernard Madoff look like a fun loving swashbuckling pirate who just robbed the rich for the fun of it.
We can just throw in the nomination of a person to the Supreme Court who will keep us all on the edge of our seats and herself on the edge of credulity trying to explain just how she is sure a Latina woman will make a better justice than a white American male (her words not mine). Let's not forget the visit of Israel's Prime Minister who still doesn't like the land for loyalty deal he is being offered by the administration in this week's news a la carte.
Perhaps the cherry on top of this absurd sundae of bittersweet confections would have to be North Korea's firing of a test missile. The only thing we see with more speed and less range than the North Korean missile would be the administration's vociferous albeit innocuous response to it. Maybe we can woo Kim Jong-Il with Barry Gibb's "It's only words, but words are all I have, to take your heart away."
The end of almost anything is often the beginning of something else. It's the old "if one door closes, another one is going to open" adage that is at work here in America. Unfortunately seeing the end of America as we know it can only mean the beginning of one thing. Some call it socialism; some call it the new age of tolerance and diversity. By any other name it is still a sad time. The election slogan 'yes we can' is quickly transforming into 'yes you will' one news story at a time.
Yes you will be more shocked by the news day by day; yes you will see America's nobility, dignity and moral character eroding more day by day. And you will be made more sorrowful day by day at the hearing of these incidents unless you live in a cocoon.
In a passage of the Bible often referred to as the 'Olivet Discourse" (Mt 24) Jesus Christ was asked the question, "When shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Mt 24:3b) After a detailed description that included famines, earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars Christ declared a new beginning. No, not the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom where the lamb lies down with the lion but the beginning of a time of sorrows that precedes his imminent return. (Mt 24:8)
What American is not made sorrowful by the daily reports of judicial quackery, legislative chicanery, and social and moral decline? So what keeps us from a making a collective response to right all the wrongs? What Christ said about the rise of sorrows is appendaged with the reasons that we are prone to tolerate them.
In its final stages powerful leadership will be needed to hold together a disintegrating society along with unwanted political force but in the interim it is pretty much nothing at all that serves as the great distracter of the rank and file. Christ said it would take no more than the everyday business of eating, drinking, marriage and daily routine to keep the gloom away. (Mt 24:38, 39)Â In laymen's terms, the business of everyday life is all that's needed to give you the business.
It is said that the ancient philosopher Diogenes went about in broad daylight with a lit lantern looking for an honest man. In America it may be said that we are going about with a burned out lamp and not looking for anything in particular except what pertains to our own personal world. When age, catastrophe, change or self reflection finally enters our personal realm we might then be touched by the "sorrows" that Christ spoke of, but even that is not a bad thing.
A little healthy sorrow might spur us to act; it could be the re-lighting of our lamps. A lamp like the one in Lady Liberty's hand that symbolizes the truth and the search for justice and equity, that lamp that symbolizes the original call to a "change we can believe in."
Copyright ©2009 Rev. Michael Bresciani