illusions of convenience

Everyday on his drive home from work a man would pass by a block of dumpsters where a group of children rummage and scavenge for scraps of food. At first it was a real shock. His heart would race and his eyes widen, looking on their bony frames and dirty faces. But in time, the man grew tired of the emotional roller coaster, seeing them everyday after work. He was upset at the fact that he didn’t have any good ideas at solving the problem. He just didn’t understand why they had to be out there everyday, right in plain sight. In a couple of weeks, the man's sadness for the children became more of an anger- So he had no difficulty in deciding it best to simply take the I-80 home to avoid the whole mess altogether. Besides, the man found the slightly longer drive home relaxing. It was helpful to have that time to himself to wind down after a hard day at the office.

People love to talk about how the world is “shrinking”. We boast about technology and how it’s expanded our reach out into the furthest corners of the globe. We talk about the limitless possibilities of real-time exchanges where money and commodities are traded with the click of a button. It’s so convenient. So beneficial. We dial up satellite images from the quiet of the living room and can watch firsthand accounts of war, natural disasters, or rumors and predictions of those to come.

It’s flawless technology. And it’s at our service.

With such systems in place it becomes nearly impossible for any place or people, no matter how far off or remote, to remain completely isolated. After all, our reach is worldwide- it’s global.

And with it, people, corporations, countries, economies, and technologies have become connected in ways we’d never have imagined a decade ago- making it exceedingly rare for an economic issue or crisis to apply only to local concerns.

It’s true. The world is shrinking. So while we may geographically live in one particular place, we are simultaneously- know it or not- participating on a much larger stage, far beyond what we see.

Still, despite all the excitement, our worlds remain deeply divided.

Of course it’s not that we must be divided, but rather we choose to be. Calamity and crisis are not out of our reach, but merely out of our perceived personal interest. It’s not that we can’t do anything. It’s just more convenient to not do anything. So we are continually in the process of grooming our focus to include only what's pleasing in our line of sight.

It's an extremely privilidged position.

I watched a documentary the other night called A Closer Walk about the AIDS crisis in Africa. And every time I see one of these- with the images of suffering, of pain, of absolute isolation and global disregard; every time I hear how simple the problem solving methods that are working are- I have this uncontrollable urge to mobilize. To pull together some courage, some money, some people, some stuff, and…

Have you had one of these moments?
The question we’re all asking-if only for the moment’s emotional lifespan- is, “What can I do?”

But aren’t we already doing something? Aren’t we already participants-like it or not- affected and affecting things far beyond ourselves? Physicality is less requisite. Our participation is now inherent.

After all, distance and isolation are just illusions. There is no divide between them and us. There are only backs turned away and looks in the other direction.

The most unsettling difference between the have's and have not's today is not access to technology or infrastructure- but our ability to turn a blind eye- to look away and ignore- and their inability to see anything but the reality in front of them.

We’re all players. We’re all responsible to something. One way or another, a look either way is still a look.

But now, if you and I realize that our participation, at this point, is implicit- if we, all of us, admit and see that we are already involved; if we all assume some responsibility, some part in what’s happening weather we like it or not- The question inevitably changes from
"what can I do?" to "what am I doing?"

And examination can make room for change.

Because being a Christian means having a look- even when it’s inconvenient. Being a Christian means taking time for another person and realizing at last that the Muslim is my brother, the Criminal, the Jew, the African, the Hindu, the porno store employee. Being a Christian requires an aptitude to confront the dumpsters on the way home. And maybe not immediately fix things, but at least to engage them.

We are all human. We are all connected- far beyond what we see and where we might physically find ourselves. We all intimately experience this life in entirety. And we’re all sons of the same Father.

Maybe you and I need to begin here.

The illusions are everywhere. Are you willing to put your social and economic system on the chopping block to confront and tear down the illusory walls? Are you willing?

This is our work. It is our responsibility; the answer to the question we all ask in those moments. Afterall, the illusion is ours- created in our name, put in place to protect our lifestyle.

A lifestyle worth remaking.

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