When dinosaurs looked up and saw a fiery meteorite shrieking into the atmosphere they had no idea their world was coming to an end. And I’m sure Romans couldn’t believe that a thousand years of culture were ending when barbarians were sighted near the gates of Rome. We are often incapable of recognizing or comprehending the important moments of our lives as they happen.
What do we really know? I’m asking this question on the Fourth of July but I’m thinking beyond the birth of our Nation. What do we know about anything? I follow the news and consider myself a political junkie even as I realize that everything I see and hear has been filtered and sanitized by various institutions and organizations before reaching me. When subsequent information leaks out I often feel foolish, so I try not to make snap decisions even though jumping to conclusions is the only exercise I get these days.
In an age where photographs and videos can be altered, when digital experts can show you a T-Rex devouring a man sitting on a toilet, seeing is no longer believing. Expert opinions are often coerced and purchased by the highest bidder. People we once relied on now tell us that poisoned foods are safe and the toys we give our children have been properly tested. Moral authorities we once trusted are now being prosecuted for molesting our children. It’s easy to be cynical at a time when our core beliefs are challenged daily and old assumptions like justice and personal responsibility no longer seem applicable. I shake my head and wonder what happened to the world I knew, and I wonder if I really know anything for certain anymore.
In my fear and frustration that I don’t know this “Brave New World,” a place that seems to attach little value to what I love and cherish, there are some things I struggle to hold onto. I know that I am loved and that I don’t tell people often enough how much I cherish them. I know that no matter how desperate or lonely or sick or lacking in hope I might be, there are others worse off. I know the world has problems but it is still filled with infinite miracles.
On this our Nation’s birthday, I know we are fortunate enough to live in a country rich in resources and possibilities, blessed with an abundance of freedom and diversity. I know that my faith and optimism will support me until a time when we love each other more than we hate our differences, when we will set aside our petty grievances and outgrow the slogan My country right or wrong, replacing it with My country when right, and when wrong to be put right.
Otherwise there isn’t really very much I know. Like I said, it’s often difficult to comprehend the importance of events while they are happening. We often fritter away our time on trivial issues, blind to the forces shaping our lives. Something remarkable may be blowing your way even as you read this. I’m reminded of an entry in King George III’s diary, dated July 4, 1776. He noted: Nothing of importance happened today.
I’ve little doubt that something of importance is happening to you today. Do you know what it is?
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY