“Now here you are with your faith
And your Peter Pan advice
You have no scars on your face
And you cannot handle pressure.” — Billy Joel
We find ourselves discussing deeper issues more often these days. Who knows why that is. It could be about us getting older and more serious. It could be about the things going on in the world right now. It could be about how we collectively respond to these big things going on. After all, I would venture to guess that our parents never had to deal with issues quite as heavy as the possibility of World War III while coming out of a pandemic.
President Zelensky made a virtual speech to a joint session of Congress yesterday. He was essentially begging for more help. It was an open appeal to President Biden, but I think it was also an open appeal to every member of Congress. The gamut apparently worked as both Congress and the president worked together to secure more funds for Ukraine.
Yet, a part of his appeal was something we have heard ad nauseum for the past 20 plus years now. People on the left and right have been offering Ukraine and the Ukranian people their thoughts and prayers. This has been a tried and retried gamut following every mass shooting our country has gone through since Columbine. People are getting tired of thoughts and prayers.
Yet, that seems to be what we have to offer. The discussion point yesterday was figuring out why. Why have we become so passive? The power of prayer is not nothing. I think many of us have to acknowledge that prayer can accomplish a great deal. Yet, even when you look back at the famous miracle stories in the Bible come to one undeniable conclusion: people have a hand in the miracles they benefit from.
When God parted the Red Sea, the Israelites still had to do the walking. They still wandered the desert for 40 years in search of their homeland. Search for almost every story and involves a partnership with God. God asks us to do something and then takes us the rest of the way. People had to produce fishes and loaves in order for it to be multiplied. People had to produce the water for Jesus to convert into wine.
The theologians I have encountered have a very sobering message that all of these stories demonstrate. The miracles we experience in our lives do not come completely free. We are asked to give as much as we can and then God makes that enough. In some sense, we are not quite sure what the miracle is. Is the miracle what God gave us or was the miracle our own ability to dig deeper and give more?
It’s an open question that goes across cultural lines. It’s an open question that goes across religious lines (or non religious). It is an open question that goes beyond political lines. Why are we generally less willing to get involved? It doesn’t have to be Ukraine. It could be any social issue that comes immediately to mind.
I’m not exactly sure whether it is simply a question of selfishness. Narcissism is on the rise and we can make further ties to selfishness. Yet, it is easy to romanticize the past. It is easy to go Norman Rockwell and simply assume the past was great and everyone was great. The truth is that people have always been flawed. So, why were they able to give of themselves and people today have not been? Is there a way we can fix it?