“Some of them were angry at the way the earth was abused by the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power and they struggled to protect her from them only to be confused by the magnitude of her fury in the final hour and when the sand was gone and the time arrived in the naked dawn only a few survived and in attempts to understand a thing so simple and so huge believed that they were meant to live after the deluge.” Before the Deluge by Jackson Browne
It has been a year since Donald Trump took office as President of the United States. To say that these have been challenging times would be an understatement. It is easy to get discouraged when you see everything you hold sacred being turned inside out and denounced as political heresy by the right wing. Yet there are signs of hope. People are resisting this perversion of power by turning out in large numbers in towns across America from Washington, DC to Hilo, Hawaii. Women who have been abused are speaking out and LGBTQ people are refusing to return to their closets in shame. People of color have held up a mirror to the public and asked “Don’t you see the racism so clearly before you?”
This last Saturday the people of Hawaii experienced what turned out to be a false alarm concerning nuclear missiles coming our way. Given the political atmosphere it’s amazing more false alarms haven’t happened. I was one of the fortunate ones because, not having a smart phone, I knew nothing about the incident until it was all over. Some people I knew were stressed terribly by the incident. Most of my friends though resigned themselves to what seemed inevitable and spent time in reflective prayer with their families of chose. Generally in emergency situations I remain calm and do what must be done; after the fact I freak out. I’ll never know for sure how I might have reacted though.
Within my family there are several people I love who view current events as another indication we are living in the End Times. As a Friend I find this theology a perversion of Jesus teachings and example. More than this End Times theology is dangerous, in that its followers tend to act in ways that make such apocalyptic visions self-fulfilling. Salvation, from their viewpoint, is only for a select few and there certainly is no need to try to make the world a better place since it’s all going to end anyway. As Friends we stress that Christ has come to “teach his people himself” and the Kingdom is here and now, to the extent we live it. Faith and action are one.
Nevertheless, despite evidence to the contrary some would say, I have hope. The human spirit does not remain in despair and the American experiment is still worth pursuing. What is there in the human spirit that makes us so resilient? At its heart I think most people want to believe the best about other people and are optimistic about life. Maybe that is my biased perception, being the eternal optimist. I do know that as a Christian I turn to the example of Jesus and find comfort there. In the words of another song (“Oceans” by Hillsong United) we are “called out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail” asked to follow God’s Leading. It is in following the Light that I can “keep my eyes above the waters” and step forth in faith knowing that the helping hand of my Guide will be extended.
What will 2018 bring? By all indications there will probably be more of the same for a while at least. I’d like to believe that Donald Trump will be either indicted or impeached but even that (if it happens) won’t solve the problems of deep division in our country. If we can recapture a sense of shared vision the wounds can heal. If we can have compassion for those with whom we disagree we may once again find common ground. Perhaps we need to live with the reality of the deluge for a while longer to better appreciate the beauty of the “naked dawn” soon to come. That’s not an End Time; rather a New Beginning.