The coming weeks will feature numerous predictions of the future - especially for 2007. We will be deluged and disgusted or inspired and informed as we sift through all the pundits' prognostications.
As we face this onslaught of information, there is the danger of slipping into one of two equally self-defeating mentalities. The first is resignation and retreat. "The world is going to do what it is going to do, so I'll find my bunker-oasis-escape pod and hope for the best." The second mode is hyper-activism: "If we do not face these issues head-on right now, Armaggedon will arrive by St. Patrick's Day." How do we navigate between the Scylla of fatalism and the Charybdis of frenetic, unfocused activity?
Often we think we have no control over "big" things and only limited control over our own daily lives. As people of faith and integrity, however, we have more opportunities to impact the world than we may at first realize!
We can not control the weather - but our personal and community habits can change local ecosystems and perhaps give our children a better world! After all, we are swimming in lakes and rivers that were cesspools in the 1950s and 1960s.
We can not control our politicians - but we elected them and we can unelect them. We can communicate clearly on issues that matter. Most of all, we can take repsonsibility for our neighborhoods and cities and help create a climate free from fear.
We can not control the decisions of enemies bent on our destruction. But we can pray for peace, work for solutions, speak the truth in love and refuse to give in to despair.
We do not pull the world's economic strings - neither do the politicians in Washington. (They only think they do!) But we can give, save, spend wisely, and work with others to allieviate suffering and create alternative (legal) economies high on compassion, sacrifice and joy.
We do not (and should not) control the thoughts and actions of others. (Here I am not referring to appropriate parenting or project management.) We can however, speak persuasively, and by our actions compel others to consider their ways and perhaps join us in transforming our world.
In the end, we must learn the twin skills of self-discipline and releasing others from untoward expectations.
For 2007 - what can we expect? And what should we do? Consider the following:
We can expect in 2007:
More international tension - are our homes places of peace?
More economic changes - are we giving and managing well?
More crazy, immoral actions from celebrities - are we keeping our thoughts and actions (and computer screens) clean?
More egocentric politicians spinning the truth - are we telling ourselves the truth about the issues that concern us?
More information about just about everything - are we trying to be wise and not just "smart"?
Next week we will add detail to this list as we look at Iran, Israel and the USA at this moment in history. For now, let's be empowered and know that what we do DOES make a big difference!