Over the last year I have had many moments of sadness. I have had a hard time trying to figure out what the origin of the sadness is. Is it our changing society? Is it related to a rejection of a moral compass by our country? Is it everyone pointing fingers at everyone else and saying how evil the other is? None of this is new, so maybe my sadness is related to the fact I am getting older and my generation is being confronted by a younger generation that sees things a bit different that my generation does? I just don’t know.
I often wonder if others feel this sadness? I think there are others who do. I think there are many prayer warriors who are on their knees because of the large-scale apostasy occurring in our nation. I also think there are many prayer warriors who are praying for the Church because many people have left the Church due to its many problems, especially our hypocrisy.
However, I think some of the sadness comes from observing the breakdown of our political system in an unprecedented manner. We are watching the destruction of the party of Lincoln and the liberalization of the other party in the name of tolerance. But what I have often seen is those who cry out the most for tolerance are the most intolerant. So maybe my sadness is the result of seeing people I care about, say how much they care for the disenfranchised, but turn around in the next sentence and demonstrate intolerance to someone else. Maybe I am sad because I am doing the very same thing in today’s blog?
I had been confused until today. Peggy Noonan, one of my favorite editorialists, wrote an article very different than what she normally presents. She too is feeling this sadness and actually has a name for it. She calls this sadness a 2016 moment. She doesn’t talk about the Church, although she is Catholic, she discusses societal occurrences. She describes the 2016 moment as, “a sliver in time in which you fully realize something epochal is happening in politics,” and then focuses on what she describes as “a presidential year” like we have never had before.
She describes Trump as “an outlandish outsider,” and Sanders as the popular socialist. But she saves the strongest words for Hillary when she describes her as having “the enduring power of a candidate even her most ardent supporters accept as corrupt.”
As I read Noonan’s article, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and the New York Times I see another part of the 2016 moment, one described in 2 Timothy chapter 3. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Are we in this time? I don’t know if the time is imminent, but it seems like these words ring true.
Politically I think is it a 2016 moment! Some of the language used by our politicians today is crude and inflammatory. Also, the comments referring to hand size were completely uncalled for. The days of stately, honorable politicians just may be gone. Think of our leaders in the past, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., FDR, and even Ronald Reagan the hated conservative patriarch; all represent previous generations of imperfect but stately people. Politicians we just may not see again.
As I look at our country I see a 2016 moment. Noonan does a great job of illustrating this for me. A young person was door knocking for a politician during one of the primaries. This person made these comments after they were done. “I was struck as I walked along the neighborhood using the app that described voters in each house. So many multigenerational families of odd collections of ages in houses with missing roof shingles or shutters askew or paint peeling. Cars needing repair.” Our roads are so bad we are planting trees and flowers in the potholes. All of which point to a declining culture.
Noonan ends her editorial by describing her moment as she watched Hillary yelling on TV, then switching TV stations and seeing a Trump caravan filled with supporters being blocked by demonstrators as they were attempting to conduct a rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Noonan states, “I watch dumbly, tiredly.” She then writes that she thought of a Paul Simon song, “The Boy in the Bubble.” The lyric she focused on was “The way we look to a distant constellation / that’s dying in a corner of the sky/ . . . Don’t cry baby/ Don’t cry.” Noonan then says the thing that illustrated her 2016 moment, “my eyes filled with tears. And a sob welled up and I literally put my hands to my face and sobbed, silently, for I suppose a minute.”
As I read this article I thought, that is how I feel. I look at all the hatred around me, the lack of civility, and my hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of those around me, and I want to cry.
Ah, that was the beginning of my day. I now have had a whole day to pray, think, and read. And all of a sudden maybe things are not as bad as they appear. And maybe there is still hope? Maybe we can right this ship a bit.
In the book “The Heart Led Leader,” by Tommy Spaulding, he shares a great story about the Principal of Columbine High School. Frank DeAngelis was in charge of the high school when two young men decided they wanted to kill other students at the school. The two young men murdered 13 students and injured 21 others. Spaulding tells the story of how devastated DeAngelis was, but had asked his student body and community to help rebuild the school. “He promised he would not quit his post until everyone then in high school had graduated.” This happened in 2002, but even at that point Frank had decided he still had some work to do. Subsequently Frank promised himself he would stay at the school until all of the children who were in kindergarten at the time of the shooting were “also graduated from high school.” This occurred in 2012, and two years later Frank DeAngelis retired.
Spaulding calls Frank his friend, and as such knew why Frank successfully rebuilt Columbine after such a devastating event. Spaulding quotes Frank as saying, “It’s all about making people feel like part of a family. And it starts with love. Because people don’t give a damn how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Wow, my day began with sadness, but finished with hope. I know there is a God who loves me, and because of that I can love others. Regardless of how they feel, or what they think or believe, I can love them. No matter how crazy our society gets, I think it is important to love, and that is what I intend to do.
And that is my thought for the day!