Is chaos good?
June 14, 2018, 6:00 AM

Is chaos good?

I ask, because after 22 years (less two months) in the Foreign Service, I am truly shocked by the actions of the current Administration that seem to be undercutting the foundations of long-standing world order – tiffs with allies, praise for autocrats, exits from treaties and agreements and standard practices, etc.

I’ll grant you, the idea of picking something apart, particularly something that has not always been easy to fathom, motivate, or change, has its attractions.  There is a certain atavistic appeal to nihilism, and to the question: How bad can it get?  We all know, of course, that it can get very bad, if we wind up in war, or the economy crashes, or the hostility wrecks not just alliances but the social fabric on which we all rely, knowingly or not.

Is there a brink?  Are we careening towards a cliff?  What happens if we get in over our heads?  What happens if relationships that have been tended and maintained over decades suddenly end?  Where will we find ourselves then?

And if we do find ourselves isolated, is is that bad? 

After all, there is a long strand of isolationism in American politics; it’s not like we haven’t set ourselves apart from the rest of the world in the past.  For evidence, just take a look at the history of U.S. involvement in the two great wars of the 20th centruy – it took three years for us to join the fight against Germany in World War I, and nearly as long to join the fight against Germany and the Axis powers in World War II – and in both cases, we might not have done so at all had it not been for military attacks against U.S. interests and the appeals of our allies around the world.

Americans have a history of opposing immigration (which I do find ironic considering we practically eliminated the people who lived here before the first Europeans set foot in the western hemisphere).  During the 1930s and 1940s, there was an active “Bundt” movement in the U.S. that supported Hitler, and the elimination or deportation of Jews and black people and other identifiable minorities.

Perhaps our current sitution reflects that history; perhaps it reflects a deeper malaise in the human soul, and is not unique to the U.S. 

Perhaps we can look at the current chaos and see the lancing of a boil – ridding ourselves of what is diseased in the body (the white cell fixing what is wrong) – or perceive a disease that attacks (the cancer cell creating greater wrong).  Sadly, it’s likely to be some of each.

So, where is God in all this?

If my take on the prophets is right, God has been adjuring the people – both the folks in the streets and the folks in halls of power – to take care of the vulnerable for millennia.  And roughly 2,000 years ago, God came to us as one of us to bring the message home – again – and to provide a way forward:  mercy, forgiveness, love, teaching. 

Jesus showed us it is possible for human beings to live the life God has been asking of us.

At times, God’s approach doesn’t seem to be working.  We still ignore the Good News, the guidance, and the commandments to love God and neighbor, seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.

How is it that the message of fear is stronger than the message of love and possibility?

I think it may be because we still don’t quite believe it, despite our best efforts.  We let the world’s woes, and our own woes, outweigh the promises of God.  I know I can do that.  Too many times we have heard the message as “if you believe in God, you will have everything you need in this life,” and too seldom do we hear “when you believe in God, you will have freedom” – especially if we don’t really know what “freedom in Christ” means.

God sits with those who suffer, as a good friend or a parent or a pastor sits with the sick – not simply to bring a cure of the physical ailment, but to uphold the spirit, to face whatever comes together, to asuure us that nothing – nothing – can ever separate us from the love of God.  Not even chaos. 

Blessings to all!                            Evelyn+