Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Living in a World That is Out of Our Control

Amazing things are happening in the Middle East. Regimes are falling, or trembling on the verge of falling. Our wired world gives us the chance to watch and even participate if we like. But what it doesn’t do is give us control over the outcomes. How we’d like to be in control!

And even here in Wisconsin events are swirling at a pace hard to imagine even a week ago. The Governor is afraid of his own citizens, dodging in and out of guarded, controlled meetings, warning the National Guard of insurrection, establishing increased security at the capitol, rushing legislation into being lest he lose his moment of control. He may have the votes to get his way, but alas, he acts like one, not really in control. (One does not call the police if he is in control.) Control is an illusion. He may intend to do a lot of good; he may, instead, be out to harm his enemies; but nothing that he does will end the way he imagines. It’s a law! He is not in control!

I think this world is structured (by the One who will, someday, set all things right) so that we will never be in control. We may have the illusion of control at times, be able to move the pieces on the chess board from one place to another – giving favors to the knights while repressing the pawns – but we lack the perspective to really determine the outcome of such actions. We live on a tiny slice of time, our life trailing out behind us, filled with slice-sized successes and slice-sized failures, but few lessons to guide us into the next slice of time. And the future comes to us only one tiny slice at a time. Beyond that, we can only guess what may be. (That is why we like to have a National Guard at the ready; to put us back in control when our plans don’t turn out the way we’d like.)

How can we be expected to build a world, one slice at a time? It isn’t fair! How we’d like enough time to be in control!

I rather like it though, the way it is. I love to see proud men tripped up in their pride, surprised at the cascade of troubles they have brought upon themselves, staring down the barrel of their own gun, now turned on them. I always liked the old radio cop shows where the villain doesn’t get gunned down outright but is forced to listen to a little sermon revealing to him all the sins he has committed, making him feel a little of the terror his victims had felt, before he is dispatched. That always seemed like justice to me.

Until . . .

Until I realize that I am a proud man, in some eyes a villain, almost always wishing I were in control. Ahem! It is time to pray . . .

“Not my will by Your's be done . . . on earth as it is in heaven." Amen.

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