The pondering is kind of sporadic tonight, just to warn you.
The bombs are falling, the missiles are launching, and my young eyes are opening wide. People are dying as America, the great superpower of the 20th century flexes its military muscle. Supposedly it’s in order to save lives. To stop killing. Killing to stop killing? It doesn’t make any sense, but I suppose it’s the last option. The Serbs are fighting for Kosovo, a land they lost in a bitter war with the Muslims 600 years ago. Calling it the ‘grave of their liberty,’ they want it back. A sort of monument to their pride. So they butcher and kill the ethnic Albanians who make up 90% of Kosovo, an ethnic cleansing by none other than Christians. Or at least that’s what they call themselves. Why are wars always fought in God’s name? How often do you think God has put his stamp of approval on a war? And so the United States steps in, the mighty hall monitor of the world that we are, and tips the scales to stop the slaughter. Will there ever be an age in this world where people aren’t suffering? Where bombs aren’t falling? Where gunfire isn’t echoing through the night?
This relates to a lot of what I’ve said about the traditional way things are done. Why is it that everyone wants security? We all go off to college so we can have a nice, well paying job and be able to easily provide for ourselves. We want to work for the rich company, so we can make a lot of money. We all know that money doesn’t buy happiness, yet we all chase it. Why doesn’t anyone want to work in the slums so they can make a difference. Yeah, there are people who do want to do that, but the vast majority are going for the money. What good is your money if others are suffering? You can’t buy them love. You have to put forth an effort to see that a difference is made. You have to make that difference. Yet all we want is a nice job, in a nice neighborhood, with a nice house, a nice car, a nice wife, and raise a nice family. You know what? Nice sucks. Jesus lived a radical life. He didn’t have a nice job, live in a nice neighborhood, live in a nice house, ride a nice horse, have a nice wife, or raise a nice family. He didn’t have any of this nice crap. So why do we chase after it? I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad, but should that be our goal? Since when is average mediocrity a worthwhile goal? Is that what Christ has called us to? I don’t think so. Satan may call you to such a nice life, because then you’re too comfortable to worry about anything he’s doing.
A friend asked me today what I want to do. What a profound question. What do you want to do with your life? I suppose it’s especially poignant now because I can actually chase those dreams. This is the time in your life when you have the choice of whether or not to make those dreams a reality. The scary thing is, I’m not too sure what I want to do. I don’t have a list of things I want to do that’s been growing in my head for the past six years. I don’t know if I could rattle of five or six things that I really want to do. I don’t know if that’s bad or not. I suppose it makes me more ample clay in the potter’s hands. I know I want to write a book. Or books, however things work out. But what else? I don’t know. This one could require a little thought.
Is American society really the way to go? 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, married and living with all sorts of possessions, wondering who really owns who. You have your kids and shove them off to the public school where by the age of 5 their creativity is squashed when their classmates laugh at their drawing of an elephant. By middle school they’re insecure and lonely, and in ten years will be joining the 8/40 work force and starting a family of their own. The unbroken cycle. Is this the way it’s supposed to be? Can’t there be a better way?
So you’re walking through the mall with people passing on every side. In a half an hour literally hundreds of people will have walked by. Have you ever considered sharing the gospel with them? Sharing the gospel with total strangers? Yeah I know, you’re feeling shocked right now. Who would do that? Why would you do that? Every time I hear someone talk about some kind of street evangelism where they witness to total strangers I get the feeling that they’re nuts. But you know what, people thought Jesus was nuts. Why not just go up to a stranger and talk to them, what do you have to lose? If they blow you off, that’s their problem. If they sit down and listen to you, it could make a difference in someone’s eternity. If you don’t do anything, well than that’s your problem. Sometimes I wonder if these methods of evangelism aren’t totally crazy. And don’t tell me it’s not for you.
So many issues to deal with in one day. I could spend weeks on any one. And then the more pressing issues come to mind, and it all fades away. I see the pictures staring back at me. I know the date, an all too familiar one. The uncertainty eats away at you, and all you can do is wonder. Maybe I need to take another walk. Maybe I just need to go to bed and hope it all fades away. Tomorrow is another day.
In one of my classes we’ve been reading a book about a Hmong family (The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman) and their clash with American culture through the illness of their daughter. Even though it’s one of those obnoxious books you have to read for a class, it’s been rather eye opening. We have to do a service learning project with some Hmong people in the Twin Cities, so there are actually practical applications to this. What amazes me the most is how little people know about the Hmong. For example, I’m typing this in Word 97, and the spell checker doesn’t recognize “Hmong” as a word.
Okay, you know what? Americans are dumb. Not only does our country stick its nose in other people’s business, but we’re just dumb. This whole Kosovo thing… okay, if you guys don’t agree on peace, we’re gonna bomb the crap out of you. What kind of deal is that!? And then there’s Turkey, beating up on Kurds in northern Iraq. We don’t care what they’re doing. But be it Kosovo or Iraq or somebody else, we come in and kick some butt. We’re the United States of America, we can do whatever the heck we want. Just look at our president.
And another thing, why are we so dumb? What’s the American Dream? Get a job and settle down with a family. Why is that all we do? We go to school, we get a job, we get married somewhere in there, we have a family, we do the same thing for a million years, and at some point we get shoved in an old folk’s home. What a life. Why don’t we do anything different. Why don’t we do anything bizarre. A friend of mine is thinking about joining the Peace Corps. That’s radical. That’s different. That’s a cool experience. It sure beats settling down that much earlier and doing nothing. You know what, the American Dream isn’t all that exciting. It’s rather selfish. And yet it’s our ideal. What kind of a country is this? It’s like a country made up of a bunch of five year old brats. Except they’d be more exciting.