The collectivists have won a Pyrrhic victory with health care. Far from uniting Americans, The Obama Administration has unleashed a new level of histrionics and partisanship. The Chicago-style arm-twisting and pay-offs to drug companies, politicians and federal unions is not what we were promised in 2008. Conversely, the Republicans have failed to offer solid hope to the millions of uninsured and their leaders are all competing for attention while we sink deeper in debt and dependency. The language of both sides makes Watergate look like the Waltons.
Critiques from the Left and Right are easy to find. Where are the voices proposing solutions that empower individuals and communities?
There is great news in the midst of the chaos and posturing. There is an awakening coming that we can prepare for and participate in. This awakening is moral, spiritual, political and social, with economic ramifications for generations to come. This awakening transcends ideology and policy disputes while upholding timeless ethical standards. This awakening is a gift and a demand. It is a grace beyond our control and it will cost us our arrogance and antipathy. This awakening will expose the oppressions of global elites and unveil our personal hypocrisy. We will be called to live with the paradoxical truths that humility is the pathway to honor and service the is the road to success. Narcissism - the pathology of so many public figures - has no place in this awakening. Ideologies and propaganda will yield to enduring principles and caring explanations of truth.
I am not speaking of some kind of nebulous "new age" cosmic consciousness. It is alarming that so many want ecstasy without ethics, spiritual flights with no relational integrity.
I am also not speaking of some kind of 19th century Christian theocracy. There are no "good old days" - only the mixed record of real people grappling with issues. For every great social reformer, we see colonizers and slaveholders defending their turf. For every awful moment of US hubris, we have many more moments of sacrificial love and service by people of all faiths or none.
The awakening I pray and prepare for is spiritual. I still believe the Good News of freedom and forgiveness proclaimed by Jesus. This said, there is an overflow of spiritual awakening that blesses all people and releases the best in humankind, whether or not we all believe the same thing. Yes, I want my friends to believe in the Cross and resurrection and find a good church. But I will partner with all people of good will and defend the rights of others to believe and worship as they see fit while we work for better neighborhoods and cities.
This awakening is moral. After 50 years of increasing relativism and secularism, we find ourselves without a private or public center that transcends the trends. Apart from abandonment, abuse and adultery, parents owe it to their children to face their issues and learn to love and respect each other. A loving marriage is the greatest legacy parents can give. Having children is NOT about personal fulfillment - it is about faith in the future and donating ourselves to the next generation.
This moral awakening includes an "off" button for the television and computer. Self-discipline is more powerful than censorship and marginalizing the purveyors of degradation is better than legal sanctions. This said, a real awakening will stimulate discussion over what we permit, prohibit and promote as a society. Will we have civil discourse or just keep yelling epithets at one another?
This awakening unites ecological sanity and economic stimulation. Entrepreneurial passions are joined with social responsibility for a better future. Private property is protected and reasonable local standards upheld. Governments and individuals learn to live within their means and discover the abundance that is available to help the less fortunate. Global capitalism and political collectivism are exposed and rejected in favor of ethical free market policies judiciously regulated.
Active peacemaking will humble the haughty in the State Department and restrain the militarists. In between the extremes of some forms of Zionism and pan-Arabist extremism are answers for Israel's survival and the thriving of Arab Palestinians.
As millions of Christians decide to live the red letters in their Bibles and walk with integrity, others will take time to consider their own moral and spiritual center. If all people of conscience live according to their highest aspirations, our world is a better place. We can still evangelize each other. But we should, in the words of St. Peter, do so with gentleness and respect, allowing our lives to speak more loudly than our words.
We do not control the will of the Almighty and the winds of awakening. We do, however, have the power to live each day with a view to God's glory and the good of others. We do have the opportunity to serve our neighbors. We can work together to educate, heal and protect one another.
For my fellow-Christians, let's humbly and tearfully cry out for Divine mercy as we serve the broken, poor and vulnerable. Let's stop warring over trivialities and let the truth of our beliefs show as we walk in faith, hope and love.
For my friends of other faiths or none: I really do want you to believe and receive the Gospel. In the meantime, let's be friends, work together where we can and debate our deepest differences with mutual respect. My "narrow road" is not intolerance. In fact, as you survey where freedom exists around the world, you will see some influence of the Judeo-Christian perspective (as well as Classical and Enlightened thought). That said, I stand with you to oppose all forms of bigotry and hatred. We will not agree on everything and sometimes our exchanges will be heated. But we can find common ground to build something better for our children.
This awakening will not be one event in one place, led by one leader. I think it is already beginning in thousands of hearts and hamlets. Thank you to all the humble clergy and laity, educators and social workers, executives and workers who are part of the solution.