“Slowly but surely I’m seeing the beauty only.” Sarah Haynes
Do you know that what we are currently experiencing, isn’t new? Pandemics, politics, racism, gentrification, classism, poverty, pollution, social isolation, war, and the list goes on and on. Yes, an older generation will say, “It wasn’t this way when I was younger.” But it was.
Maybe we weren’t able, through communication technology, to be as aware of it as we are today? Maybe we didn’t talk about certain things, outside of certain circles? Every new generation can remember an older generation bemoaning the downfall of civilization and the restructuring of society. Every generation is privileged enough to believe, from their perspective, that they have lived in better times.
Why is this? It is because every generation has lived in better times, from their perspective. This is nobody’s fault. This is simply the way that it is. Each and every generation can only know what they know and can only see things the way that they see things. It is true that the more the world changes, the more it stays the same. The only difference is our perspective.
Yes, one can make a case for the internet and social media fanning the flames. But the flames were in existence long before the internet and social media. As Billy Joel sang, way back in 1989 (pre-internet and social media), “We didn’t start the fire.”
What then are we to do? Are we to sit back and let injustice win? Are we to sit back and let hatred, bigotry and greed win? Of course not. All of these not so new problems aren’t the problem. Our problem is and has always been found in our perspective of these not so new problems. Until our perspectives are transformed, we will be cursed to rinse, wash and repeat, for generation upon generation, until the end of time.
It has been proven that simply knowing about something doesn’t change it. If that were the case then the internet wouldn’t be as vilified as it is today. Knowledge is a great place to start. But we must go deeper and further if we ever truly want to overcome our seemingly unending cycle of generational perspective repetition.
First, we need to remember the past. We need to re-member or put the past back together, in the here and now. The whole past, not just the winner’s perspective of the past. We need to see the past for what it truly was – all of the good, all of the bad and all of the ugly.
The past wasn’t a better time than now or a worse time than now. It was simply a different time than now. How arrogant it is of us to believe that we live in better times today or that we lived in better times yesterday. Who exactly are we to make such a broad stroke judgment about time?
Second, we need to see the beauty of humanity in all of it. Yes, the beauty of humanity in war, that is found in the lives of the people who seek after and work toward peace and reconciliation. Beauty of the humanity in racism, that is found in people who not only oppose it in their living rooms, but live to oppose it in their lives. Beauty of the humanity in politics, that is found in men and women who take real steps to unite us and change our lives for the better.
The beauty of humanity in it all needs to be our focus. The stories on the front page of the newspapers and all the stories on the evening news pointing to the beauty of humanity in it all. Twenty-four-hour channels dedicated to the beauty of humanity in it all. Radio talk shows and podcasts devoted to the beauty of humanity in it all.
Yet, we all know that this will never happen. Because the reality of the beauty of humanity in it all doesn’t sell advertising. Why doesn’t it sell advertising? Because nobody will watch it, listen to it or call in to talk about it. How do we know that nobody will watch it, listen to it or call in to talk about it? Because history has proven it.
What we are all currently experiencing, the bemoaning of our circumstances, which has been totally influenced by our perspectives, isn’t new. We all believe that we have lived in better times than our current times. Thus, we search out the pandemics, politics, racism, gentrification, classism, poverty, pollution, social isolation, war, and any other number of bad news topics, as proof of our perspectives.
In essence, the very things that we are bemoaning about our world, are the very same things that we crave to find out about, in order to validate our perspectives. Yes, an older generation will say, “It wasn’t this way when I was younger.” But it was.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing that you can do for God.
Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You will be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:1-2)