I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Mostly because I have a tendency to worry myself to an early death, and our worst, most obvious behaviors are often what we gloss over in ourselves and despise in others. So before I say anything else, just know that I do recognize my worrisome tendencies and am sadly and acutely aware that I am not perfect.
In church on Sunday, they showed a flashy video (as Mariners, the ultimate in relevant megachurch, is so apt to do,) of things that are worrying Americans, and particularly, I suppose, affluent Southern Californians in 2008. Images with titles explaining our fears, such as " Iraq War" "Recession" "Presidential Primaries" "Global Warming" "Terrorism" and a host of others that I can't even remember, backed up with stressful-sounding rock music to enhance the effect. It's an impressive list of concerns, and I have to admit that I had a bit of a knot in my stomach after such a stirring reminder that I'm not actually in charge around here.
After they got everybody sufficiently riled up, they calmed us all down with a ballad of God's love and faithfulness, after which we all settled back into our semi-contented state, believing that we have more things to be concerned about now than any generation before us, but that we are quite righteous in giving it to God and worrying slightly less.
We are, as a society, becoming more and more accustomed to living in worry and discontent. To think that 2008 is the worst year yet, that we're overwhelmed with hardship, particularly in Orange County, of all places, is laughable and disturbing. Our worry is not a fleeting mood that comes when the rent is more than the paycheck; for most people at Mariners those days are such a distant memory that they can hardly remember what a bounced check looks like. It's a constant attitude of disgruntled living that colors our days, darkens our sunshine and batters our souls without us even realizing it.
What exactly are we so upset about anyway? We live in the most affluent, freedom-loving democracy in the world. We worry about terrorism, but not nearly like those who have lived for years in a war zone, losing countless friends and neighbors to pointless violence. We worry about Global Warming (which personally, I believe is an unfounded scare tactic - perhaps another blog on that will come later,) but we drive trucks and SUVs to work, gladly vacation all over the world, and willingly produce tons of waste per day, simply because we were too lazy to wash a dish or cook at home, and would rather buy it now and throw it away. Although we say we're worried about politics, only 64% of U.S. citizens over 18 even care enough to vote. And although Recession is a buzz word for furrowed brows and long sighs, I haven't seen many folks giving up their $6 coffee or $40 manicures lately.
OK. So now the people who've plowed through think I'm naive and have oversimplified the problem, and the people who don't care have long since left me to my rambling. Here's my point. It's become the fashion, as Jane Austen would say, to be a pessimist.
Here's the truth. We live in a beautiful, democratic country. We are blessed with freedoms of speech, religion, privacy, safety and affluence beyond what most cultures ever dream of. Everyone I'm writing this to has eaten today, and it was probably something that they actually wanted to eat, not the only thing they had. We have wide-open spaces, well-engineered cities, and above all, a God who loves us immeasurably and a purpose for being here.
We've got work to do, I'll give you that. But that's why we're here. Not to wring our hands in worried irrelevance, but to go forth boldly, speaking truth, living in love, making a difference, and above all, being content - and letting the Big Guy worry about the end result. I have a feeling He's got it covered... even in 2008.
*The composer and performer of the famous tune: "Don't Worry, Be Happy"