the upside down man


Each time I see the Upside-Down Man
Standing in the water,
I look at him and start to laugh,
Although I shouldn't oughtter.
For maybe in another world
Another time
Another town,
Maybe HE is right side up
And I am upside down.

-shel silverstein

A study came out recently noting that the overwhelming majority of victimized families who witness the guilty being put to death, do not experience a sense of relief or closure.

In other words- The idea that exacting punishment on the person would somehow make them (those seeking justice) feel better, is false.

There remains reserved some sort of cosmic inequity between what happens on earth and what should have happened. And the most curious thing is that this divide usually includes not only whats happened, but how we've responded to it- in effort to make things right.

Although we wish we could- We find we cannot undo whats been done. We can only conclude that we live in an upside down world- and chase the reflection of a God who came to reconcile all things, all actions, and all people- and finally make them right again.

The cycle repeats itself over and over. Something goes wrong, and we respond- as best we can.

It's as though we have little choice in these matters, little hope of truly making things right again. There is an immeasurable regret that things were ever put in motion. We say we wish it had never ever happened in the first place. And we fight, all our lives, to move beyond what's transpired.

Each man must decide for himself what kind of a world he lives in- And what kind of a God he serves. For there is an undeniable divide between our justice and the terms by which God works and operates.

We must decide. Either it is we who are in need of righting, or it is God. One of us is upside-down.

In many ways it seems we worship an upside-down God. A God who turns over all our expectations, all our understanding, and flips on end the systems we've established to make sense of one another and our world. Upside-down is the God who tells us to love our enemies; the God who champions the poor and forgotten; the audacity to overcome evil with good; to derive power from forgiveness and grace, rather than mere punishment; and most upside-down of all- a God who becomes one of us and dies that we might live.

It's convenient to think of Him as upside down- and live in the illusion- so that we might not have to change.

For indeed, it is we who are the upside-down ones.

Even amidst all our supposed intelligence, we deliver retribution as a sensible reprcussion because we think it brings healing to hurt; we say forgiving means forgetting, although we'll never really let go of what's been done to us; we love conditionally because we've learned we have to be unconditionally guarded and skeptical of the motives of anyone who loves us simply out of love; we measure success by our standard of living and measure ourselves by our accomplishemnts; likewise we elevate the athlete and the actor to our society's highest position- we place them as role models for our children, as ideal examples to be emulated- because we idolize their lifestyle.

Although we're taught about these falacies from our youth, we blindly go on to embrace them. Somehow, despite knowing the truth, we end up, all of us, chasing after the wind in an endless, winless race for money, for fame, and for praise. We spend our energy on repaying the wounds done to us, on holding onto old anger, and we exhaust ourselves on self-elevation and self-worship in a failing effort to escape ourselves, and discover something greater than us- All of which ironically leads us further from ourselves, from God, and further from righting our upside-down world.

I think the best starting point, if we're to take part in God's inevitable mission to flip things over, is to simply see things as they are. For if one cannot see his own inverted nature, how can he ever take part in righting himself and the world around him? One must come to recognize that our ways are not God's; that we have this pronness toward a flawed and failing system of justice and rectification.

It matters less which side you decide to be upside down, and more important that you learn to recogize the impossible difference between a world reconciled to itself, and a world reconciled to God. The impending implosion of world and people left to their own devices, and the absolute hope of a world made again in God's terms.

And at last concede that maybe HE is right side up and we are upside-down.

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