Someone attempts to kill everyone in a church service, questions emerge, and reporters (more cultural commentators than news reporters) communicate the following sentiment.
We need a bigger conversation. We need a bigger conversation about why human life is seen as something we can just discard and why we value it so little. We need conversation about what is deeper that produces so many of our problems.
When we have a mass killing a number of explanations emerge that are plausible. Until we get the facts we do not know what explanation applies. Yet, the very fact that there are so many options is a sign of the enormity of our problems. Is a particular mass killing domestic terrorism, international terrorism, domestic disputes, mental illness, simply human wickedness, or just inexplicable?
And then we have others who quickly offer explanations though we know they are agendas. Their devotees will pounce on any and every opportunity to push their “solution.” In many ways these solutions are in search of a problem so they can be legitimized as solutions. Some of us realize that to these people the solutions are more important than solving the problem that the solutions are hypocritically claimed to solve!
The very fact that so many “plausible” explanations emerge, that so many jump immediately to emotionally reactive attempts to push solutions embraced with or without facts and the resulting understandable polarization all point to something important about our world. That is, we are breaking down. And, we have been on this path for a very long time.
The problem is also complicated by the fact that entire industries are positioning themselves to turn our problems into extremely lucrative work. Therefore, the real conversations become even more difficult as “experts” fail to admit ways they are part of the problem. Leaders of these industries have not only contributed in powerful ways to our break down but they are also lining up to financially profit as they become our “experts” for understanding our dilemmas. Making no progress deepens their pockets and creates dependency on their “help.”
Families, churches, religious communities and institutions, businesses, political groups, nations, and the human race as a whole can be a dysfunctional group. And, when any of these groups are dysfunctional they will attack and turn on anyone who offers the actual solutions that can give true “hope that does not disappoint.” They will tend to turn on the very voices they need to hear. It is worse than a waste of time to offer solutions into that kind of conversation. Why? Because they will turn and tear you in pieces. But, there is an even greater reason that this is a waste of effort.
Surely, the best among us would be willing to be torn to pieces if the result would be ultimate good for all. Yet, it is also true that offering solutions in this environment is actually bad for the people who receive those solutions. To understand my claim it is important to realize the following.
Real solutions call for real and painful change. Real solutions are often simple yet complex and difficult in many ways. When defensive people receive those solutions they simply get inoculated against insight that CAN make a difference. As a result, they are in worse shape after they have received insight than they were before they received it. Our problem is NOT that we do not have solutions. Our difficulty is that we do not like the solutions that actually exist. There are powerful reasons we do not like these solutions that could be explored in more detail later.
Hope does not depend on engaging another new conversation. We have not done well with the ones we do engage. Our hope depends upon our realization that we have engaged too many conversations with their accompanying experts as a way of avoiding truths we all know that very few want to admit. Our problems have very little to do with the kind of ignorance that can be “cured” by education. Our problems have everything to do with deliberate and willful ignorance. Willful ignorance is very different than simple ignorance and it cannot be approached the same way.
When we have become so broken we are willing to engage issues of sin more than addiction, moral corruption more so than mental illness, and a spiritual framework that sheds light on an objective moral law more so than subjective human opinion then and only then can we find light at the end of our tunnel.
What we are currently living is the very fruit of being our own “gods.” THE conversation is one about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life given by a being beyond human to humans. If there is not such a thing then “might makes right” and the smartest most manipulative among us will function as the divine intelligence. When we wake up we will realize we have been actually competing against the true God who is within but also above the universe.
We WILL do one of two things. We WILL experience a radical spiritual turning or things WILL get much worse. If we get worse even our prayers will be meaningless because they will be empty self-talk. In that case, our prayers would simply be the problem in conversation with the problem about the problem . . . which is the problem.