Friday, March 4, 2011

Further Brave Living

Much has changed as we live farther into this new millennium. The revolution in Egypt made possible by social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, was a hopeful sign that technology can aid us in our dreams for a better world. But technology can also work against us as evidenced by such threats as identity theft. Ten years is a long time in a world of accelerating change. Gone for many is that sense of buoyancy, the faith in our ability to change the world for the better, even the security of our homes and investments, if we were lucky enough to have them seem threatened. In its place is an all too familiar litany of woe: unemployment well over ten percent, a post-terrorist world that makes us fearful to travel, a new sense of frugality born out of disaster, world hunger, violence as real as ever and a planet that is growing ever warmer.

While it is true that for many of us our faith in what we held most dear has been shaken, there is still much to believe in. The difference is that we have to believe with more courage than we did before. I still believe that we are created equal even if it seems our economy has made some more equal than others. I still believe that God calls us to act with compassion and justice, even when it seems that our actions are thwarted by institutions too large to care. I still believe people want to do the right thing, even when instant news tells us continually about those who do wrong.

As Angela Henderson our intern minister so bravely reminded me, all of our nostalgia about how great it was a generation ago, she reminded us that it wasn’t so great if you were a woman, or gay or African American. It took courage to live in those simpler days as well. The world may have been simpler but there were fewer opportunities for entire classes of people to make a difference. While the world is faster and more complex than ever, individuals can make much more of a difference. The revolution in Egypt began with a handful of people sharing their dreams through the internet.

However, it wasn’t the internet alone that made the revolution in Egypt possible. It was people going into the streets with other people. Hopeful change may begin with social networking but, ultimately, it takes the courage to go out and be with others that creates a better world. Now more than ever, we need to exercise our faith by joining with others in community centers and places of worship. We need to look into the eyes of those we first met online.

It takes courage and effort to create good in this brave new world. I am reminded of what an elderly Buddhist monk once told me: “Life is hard. Stand up straight. Breathe deeply. Walk with courage. And touch others with love.” This is what it means to live bravely with faith in a world ever new. Be ever brave. Walk on together.

With Grace and Grit, John