for better or for worse

I was going to write a post about how folks in the US have little if anything to complain about. About how they live in the wealthiest most advanced most comfortable most convenient country in the history of the world. Where there is an entire aisle in every football field sized grocery store just for breakfast cereal. Cold, fresh milk can be purchased - the only decision? Regular or organic. A place where water fountains give you cold, drinkable water. For free. Where the roads are nearly Romanesque masterpieces of engineering. A place where the dire health issue of the impoverished is obesity. Obese poor. Have you ever thought about how amazing that is? Where there is more opportunity for the poor to work hard and get an education and make a great life for themselves than anywhere in history. The electricity stays on. High speed internet has become almost as available as breathable air and cold water fountains. If you can't afford health care, Medicaid will help. If you can't afford food, get food stamps. If you're down on your luck, walk into a church. Where we still won't talk about racism because both sides are too scared to be honest and confront our pride and sin. Where the greatest dividing debate is whether it's murder to abort a baby or just killing some pre-birth tissue and success depends on your ZIP code and square footage more than the "content of your character" as one man who really got it said one spring day.

But then I thought about it and realized that we know what we have experienced and most folks in the US have not experienced the world at large. We can't possibly live in another time and see how fortunate (or blessed, as is often said...although I wonder if folks who don't have all the things we have are less blessed or "unblessed" or maybe even cursed...but we'd never say that). And everyone defaults to thinking that their way of things and of doing life is superior to other's ways of doing. The proof of that is we don't try to change what we're doing. If there were a way that was better (say, eating one big meal at lunch, or eating dinner at 10:00pm) we would do it. But humans default to thinking the way they currently do it is best. We too are affected by inertia - we head in the same direction unless something acts upon us to change it. It's human.

The reality is that people the world over affix moral value to things which have no moral weight. We say "America is better" when what we mean is that it is cleaner or safer or more convenient or easier to succeed in doing so we attach morality to safety, cleanliness, convenience and better engineering. And we miss the point.

God doesn't really care where we live or how convenient or safe or clean it is. All those things are good things, but they are not most important. God wants us to be a certain kind of person, not live in a certain kind of world. And the US world is a really hard place to do that. It's like trying to read a book inside a washing machine or on a roller coaster. Just too many things going on to stop and think.

And that "Itus" be it materialism or prosperity or whatever is spreading. We don't just export democracy. And the world is speeding up, shrinking and homogenizing at an incredible rate.

And I live in both worlds. And love the people in each. And I wonder in what world my children will raise their children and how can I prepare them for what I cannot anticipate. And I realize now that God is the great unchanging One who was and is and is to come. That what I must focus on is not all those things but "seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." And then I am thankful. That I was born in such an amazing place and time. That there really is a place where you can drink the tap water and drive around after dark. And I complain a little less about everyone else complaining. And see us for what we are - just people in need of our Lord. And I can enjoy it all a little more when I remember that we have a lot more in common than I thought.

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