About a month ago, I almost posted here about a better voting system for our country. The post is finished. All I have to do is hit the publish button. But posting it felt wrong. I was scrolling through Facebook a LOT right after the election, and it was a deluge of vitriol, fear, sadness, defiance, and chaos. Most of it focused on our federal government and its flaws, both as a system and as a collection of flawed individuals. And those who haven’t crafted their Facebook feeds into echo chambers have probably seen most of the various viewpoints and so many things that are wrong, and have been feeling fairly icky about politics and the country and people in general. I realized a post about ranked ballots wasn’t going to help. Not a month ago, and not now.
I want to “pivot” my blog into something better. I’ll keep telling stories of interesting things that happen to me, when they happen, but I also want to write things that inspire people. I want to point people toward the God of all creation and the cross of Jesus Christ. And right now, I want to answer a question I keep asking myself:
What do I, in the midst of chaos, do now?
I am one person, but God has, many times, done a lot with one person. And there is a lot more I can do in partnership with my loving husband, friends, and church. These are some of the answers I have right now:
- Remember this excerpt from From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation by Gene Sharp (emphasis mine):
“One characteristic of a democratic society is that there exist independent of the state a multitude of nongovernmental groups and institutions. These include, for example, families, religious organizations, cultural associations, sports clubs, economic institutions, trade unions, student associations, political parties, villages, neighborhood associations, gardening clubs, human rights organizations, musical
groups, literary societies, and others. These bodies are important in serving their own objectives and also in helping to meet social needs.
Additionally, these bodies have great political significance. They provide group and institutional bases by which people can exert influence over the direction of their society and resist other groups or the government when they are seen to impinge unjustly on their interests, activities, or purposes. Isolated individuals, not members of such groups, usually are unable to make a significant impact on the rest of the society, much less a government, and certainly not a dictatorship.”
- Emphasize outreach, even if it means going out in the snow, in the heart of the city, and talking to strangers. We, as Christians, claim to offer truth, hope, grace, virtue, and love. God does offer all of these things. Can we be better ambassadors? If there is any way for us, as individuals and as groups, to send that message better than we are, it is badly needed now. If there is any way for me to participate in what God is doing, I want to do it now.
- Stop being distracted by the temporal. Right after Election Day, without making any kind of grand decision, I simply stopped playing the computer game Dota 2. I’d been playing it a lot up through that night, with Ed and with folks online, because it’s Battle Pass season and it’s a lot of fun. But the next day, I didn’t feel like getting lost in frivolous things. And the day after that I didn’t, either. Nor the day after that. And I haven’t played it since. And they’ve just done a big ol’ update and lots of things are new and I find myself actually repulsed by the idea of playing it, because the real world is a big, beautiful place with a lot of dark spots that need reality and truth and love and beauty poured in. I want to see the beautiful places and do the beautiful things and live. (This sounds familiar.)
- Be alone. Allow myself to get bored, and to think deeply, and to speak to God, and to hear from God. Give myself time to breathe.
- Don’t be alone. Don’t depend only on myself, but exist with others and live among others and know what’s going on in their lives, and let them know what’s going on in my life. Eat together. Pray together. Laugh together. Cry together. Remember the “one another” directives.
- Create beautiful things, and do my part to bring the kind of music, art, and literature into the world that makes passers-by stop in wonder and awe. Sometimes this means making things myself, sometimes this means sharing things that someone else did, and sometimes this means not sharing things that are, basically, noise.
- Oppose awful things. For instance, a Muslim registry. If the tide turns in the next couple of decades, and a future government wants to register all the Christians, with our “discrimination” and “hate speech” and unapproved proselytizing, who will help us if we don’t speak up now?
- Do some good when and where I am led to do so.
- Remember that Christ is King, Lord of all, and that God Almighty has always directed the times and ages and nations, and has not stopped doing so today. Everything looks confused and uncertain this close up, and we haven’t seen the end yet, or what good may come from the turmoil, but God directs it all from His throne and we have nothing to fear. We only have a mission to complete as Christ’s people, God’s children, while we walk this earth.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
As far as I can tell, I wrote my first blog post at rae-bot.blogspot.com eight years ago today, and this seems a fitting time to wrap up an era. Going forward, I want the things I write here to qualify as Philippians 4:8 material. Let my words be not only true, but also honorable, just, pure, and lovely. Let me speak of that which is commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise, and help people to think about these things. Let 2017 be a good year for better use of my words, and an excellent beginning for better things.