I think we have a crisis.
I've been thinking about our national malaise lately, and I've begun to come to some conclusions. I want to examine this over the next few days. This post is intended to set the stage for what follows in later posts. I may even be able to suggest some ways to deal with this crisis, but we'll see, we'll see.
I say we have a national malaise. What else would you call a climate of discord and rancor like we see now in the political arena? What would you call the sense of uncertainty that hovers over home owners, workers, people in every walk of life? How else would you categorize the dread that plagues people concerned about being foreclosed, laid off, disemployed, marginalized, rendered impotent, ignored?
The crisis that permeates the United States in 2011 looks to me like a crisis of confidence, or in spiritual terms, a crisis of faith.
This crisis doesn't affect all countries. Take China, for instance. Does China strike you as a nation suffering from a lack of confidence in its ability to forge into the future and prevail? Are the Chinese paralyzed by fear of the unknown future?
But let's turn the bright light of examination on ourselves, and bring that mirror close in. Moreover, let's polish the reflecting glass to a high gloss so we can see ever more clearly.
Do we talk about how confident we are in the future?
Are we excited by the prospects of the next month? The next year? Ten years out?
Do we believe our children will live in a world better than the one we live in?
If we can't answer each of these questions with an unconditional "Yes!" then I submit that we're without that confidence that we must have if we're to succeed in the world of the twenty-first century.
If we have no confidence, then it would seem logical to assume that we also lack faith.
We are told in Holy Scripture that faith is confidence in things unseen, certainty in what is hoped for. I don't get the sense that we have that confidence, that certainty.
Over the next few days, maybe even weeks, I'd like to examine where this apparent lack of faith began, what characterizes it in the present day, and perhaps some things that we can do to restore a faith that we simply must have if our lives are to be lived well.
This may sound like a political commentary, but I assure you, it isn't. Jimmy Carter went into a spell of deep introspection years ago, and addressed the nation, telling us he sensed a national malaise. He was roundly criticized for that. There was much about the Carter administration that stunk of failure, but his perceptiveness was right on. This was true in his day, and it's more true in ours. This is not political - it's spiritual, and at that, not limited to adherents of a particular religion.
Stay tuned. I'll have more to say in the next post.