If you pay any attention to the news, everybody is speaking in broad strokes about global change. There’s definitely something afoot.
Whether you call it the great turning, the great unraveling, or now the great resignation, significant things are happening. Some are seeing signs and wonders.
Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and there was much public debate about the disturbing difference between his dream, his vision of a just society where all people are treated fairly, and the current reality in this country. Much attention has been given to how much has changed, and not changed, in the last 50 years.
Meanwhile, it’s getting harder to deny that climate change is real. Hurricanes, forest fires, tornadoes, and other extreme weather events have been getting more severe and more frequent. In fact, they keep breaking records of magnitude each year. Our weather keeps getting more inhospitable and downright dangerous.
As a human species, we’ve never been in this predicament before, where the environment we all live in is becoming less and less agreeable to us and other species like us.
Then there’s the global pandemic, an ongoing crisis of compassion, where it becomes more obvious that our actions and inactions affect those around us. It is becoming apparent that our behavior has an impact on those around us, with whom we breathe the same air.
Historically, we’ve seen pandemics and the demise of empires before — what appears to be the collapse of civilization, depending on how you look at it.
The Book of Revelation was written during the fall of Rome. Monastic communities sprung up in dark times, offering order in the midst of chaos. Indigenous peoples have been thriving through it all. We humans, by and large, are a plucky lot, even under generational oppression and attempted genocide, we have a tenacity towards resilience.
What we’re going through now may be perceived differently by different people, depending on their worldview, their station in life, and their place in society. While some may see a growing darkness, an approaching time of chaos and suffering, others may see the birth of a new world, or the dawning of a new age.
Think of how this is playing out in us all. Relationships, some long held, are being broken, and some reforged, because someone refuses to listen or they just don’t get it. Or maybe we’re just done being a cog in a wheel.
Some don’t yet see positive possibilities, but they’re hopeful. They’re ready for something new, hankering for something better, although enthusiasm might not last.
Some don’t want things to change, they’re too comfortable, attached to the way things have been. They may even be actively resistant to a more just and equitable society for all.
Some see signs of transformation all around them every day, because they are midwives assisting in its birth. They are already living in the beloved community, the kingdom of God, and they want to share that joy with others. They are love activists and cultural creatives.
These differences in perspective on the same grand situation we find ourselves in might sound familiar. Indeed, they’re a lot like the parable of the sower, in the book of Matthew. Let’s put ourselves in that story. How are your seeds sprouting? Are you producing grain, or flowers, or weeds? Are you sharing with others?
In every crisis and calamity, throughout the ages, we have a choice as to what kind of community we’ll help to build, help to tear down, or try to maintain. Wouldn’t you like to make the world a better place?
All things work together for good for those who love God, who love life!
There is much work to do.
David Soliday is the minister at the Delaware Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.