It used to be easy– used to be, but not anymore.- John Faircloth
It’s an obscure quote pulled from my memory of being a 7th grader in 1982, attending my first regional youth assembly with my church youth group. John was a pastor in Atlanta. I’m not sure if I knew him before this time, but I certainly knew him and his family after.
The line was part of his keynote, and it was a kind of tagline as he kept repeating it over and over throughout the weekend. It used to be easy—used to be, but not anymore. I suspect it was as much as statement about his own life as it was a warning to us kids. It has stuck with me, and continues to pop up in mind year after year, like a sacred echo of my own time.
If this quote was a bell, it would certainly be ringing loud and clear these days. Nearly 30 years after I first heard this line, it’s so much more evident to me, now myself an ordained minister. The words rang in my ears Friday night as I was on-call at the hospital where I’m doing chaplaincy training (known as CPE Residency). I talked to several people that night and in the following morning.
In three particular conversations, the connecting thread was the state of the United States economy and also the general state of the world in regards to economies and war—-wars that seem often to include a religious element. The 1990s rang up my consciousness to remind me that Rodney King asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?”.
More and more I see people are deeply concerned not just about themselves and their own status, but also the state of the world around them. It’s a deeply spiritual issue. More than that, it’s a spiritual crisis.
It’s a spiritual crisis because it effects the way people make meaning of this world and find meaning in their life. If the world seems to be disintegrating all around you, it becomes increasingly difficult for you to feel confident in the consistency of your surroundings and your own ability to fulfill your own dreams and visions for the future.
This crisis is not new to the world–those in the Middle East have been living this uncertainty for decades, if not longer, Africa too. It is new to the United States and other first world nations. We have enjoyed peace on our homeland and an ever growing economy—that is until the last decade.
I’m not sure how all this will play out, but it is evident to me that we will have to work much harder to face this spiritual crisis. Our citizens are languishing in instability. Poverty, and the fear of imminent poverty, are at the highest levels experienced in decades. The wealth divide is growing. And Americans, who used to be known as some of the most generous and united people, are becoming some of the most selfish, isolated and insulated people. These are not signs of a world power. These are signs of looming global economic catastrophe.
It’s about time we learned to live within our means, and recognized that we are all in this together—no matter where we live. It used to be easy—used to be, but not anymore.
Yield our favor