I’m impatient with everything these days: The World, The Church, political parties, special interest groups, economists, the tea party, libertarians, congress, America, the U.N., Syria, Russia, China, the gun lobby, cable television, rugged individualism. There is a long line of et ceteras. All of the players seem to be plodding along, disconnected from much that needs attention.
On the other hand, in the small, local learning lab I call my church home (Church of the Holy Family, an Ecumenical Catholic Communion parish in Aurora, Colorado), I’m surrounded by a lot of good people who expect me to be myself and who are impressively patient. This is a remarkable gift, offered free of charge. It’s my impression that everyone is on as steep a learning curve as I am. But even though every day feels like an assault on a virtual Matterhorn of new things to learn about life—on the job, at home, in the community, with extended family, plus a long line of et ceteras—we just keep on practicing offering each other free welcome and permission.
This is a big deal. Everything in life these days seems to be new and up for grabs. Learning seems like the only route to staying relevant and being useful. Welcoming ourselves to the new world and giving ourselves permission to learn seem like the only ways to keep from drowning together in the curriculum life has thrown at us.
Particularly I want to welcome and give permission to shine a little light into the dark corners of our political sensibilities. I wish Republicans would consider that government is one really important way that All of Us Acting Together can serve both the individual and the common good. I wish Democrats would consider that they have some very important things to learn from Republicans about how All of Us Acting Together needs to work.
Bottom line, we all need to look honestly at one another and acknowledge that it’s really dumb to spend billions on a food fight in the cafeteria and pretend that it has anything to do with free speech and democracy. The problem isn’t the President or his opponent. The problem isn’t even the Presidency. The problem is the political process that has devolved into food fights and allows us to go on building and camouflaging vast illusions about what is required of Us to live together in the 21st century.
History and reality have given us a challenge of monumental proportions: learning how to work together to deal with a world vastly more different than we expected. If we’re ever going to learn how different we need to become to live together in this new world, we’re going to have to welcome one another to the new global classroom-of-life and give ourselves permission to buckle down to today’s lessons.