Pastor's pen for 8th November 2020 - The art of not knowing what to do...

I get discouraged with the tone of so many polarized debates online. Virtually every political, environmental, moral, religious, practical, health or economic issue raised in the social media world immediately separates into black and white rhetoric. Some folk must spend an inordinate portion of their time opining on their hot-button trigger issues.

So many paragraphs are constructed that will go nowhere, because it seems to me that unless you have the ear of a strategic politician, business leader or official, no one with any actual power or influence is going to give a hoot that you won that Facebook argument, alienating a couple of online acquaintances in the process.

Just this last Sunday at coffee time after church, someone was asking me what to do about their friend peppering their inbox with the latest pseudo-Christian conspiracy that the beehive was an evil conduit for the elite, socialist takeover of all that we hold dear. I think my free advice would be as follows:

a) ignore

b) block

c) delete

d) all of the above

You're welcome. We get only so much time on this planet to breathe the sweet air, so let's not waste any of it locked into vitriolic and pointless arguments in front of the warm, relentless glow of our devices.

Polar viewpoints are little practical use to us in daily life, as most of our social interactions, crises and practical activities occur in the middle-ground grey areas of family, work and community. The good Samaritan presumably didn't bother to ask the guy twitching and bleeding on the side of the road whether he voted National or Labour, he just bathed his wounds.

A little book I got for a dollar at the Hospice shop has a chapter; "The art of not knowing what to do", and asks; ''How come no one ever warned you that life would be fraught with mixed messages?' It discusses the human condition, in which we spend a lifetime figuring stuff out by trial and error, amassing a store of mistakes that end up being experience. I love this quote:

'We all need to be reminded from time to time that we probably don't have what it takes to solve all the problems of the world - but that we are wonderfully equipped to marvel at its existence.' The Art of Imperfection Veronique Vienne

I think this sort of perspective is invaluable in the current season and that a focus on local acts of practical wisdom guided by our faith are going to trump expansive opinions on the state of the world. Dis-engage and breathe, re-engage as salt and light. Martin

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