So...what's wrong? No, seriously. What, in the day-to-day, average-experience, mundane-motion, part of your life honestly and genuinely makes you mad? What do you regularly encounter that tangibly affects you? I ask, see, because I've been on this kind-of profane high lately, hammering on about how we should take control of our lives, and live them in the moment, how we should stop blaming others, stop making excuses, and stop letting politicians, pastors, and internet heroes tell us what to think, and it occurred to me this morning that all of these shoulds and stops have a common theme.
Ask 100 people the root of evil, and 99 will say "money". If you've got it, you'll do terrible things to keep it; if you don't have it, you'll do terrible things to get it. Even if you're well-off and secure, or not so but content, the world will find some way to make things stressful, because...that makes other people money. For every concern you have, someone is selling the cure. There's a pill, or a cream, or a car, or a gadget, a lawsuit, a market, or a piece of insurance that can fix whatever is bothering you. And the more things that bother us, the more money there is to be made. Every wrinkle you see, every pound you gain, every neighbour you don't like, every word you find offensive, every act you don't agree with is another dollar in somebody's pocket. The entire economy is, in essence, based on power, insecurity and division. Divide and conquer.
Look in any direction; look at any facet of society, and you will see it: the media tells us we aren't thin enough, that we're too old or too young, that we don't have enough of this or that. They make clear the lines between what is good and what is not good. We give them that power, we give them our money, we strive to become what is good, and we begin to look down upon those that are not good. The government tells us what is fair and what is unfair, what is safe and what is scary, what we should be okay with, and what we absolutely should not be. They make clear the lines between what is good and what is not good. We give them that power, we pay them our taxes, we cling tightly to what is good, and yell angrily about what is not good. There are churches, clubs, organizations, and institutions of every possible flavour, all drawing more and more lines between what is good and what is not good, and all of them - every single one - benefits from our division. They benefit by virtue of "us" and "them". The more insecure we feel about ourselves, the more we pass those same judgements onto others, the more firm we become in our belief of what is good and what is not good, the more someone out there benefits.
And this takes me back to my question to you: what, really, is your problem? What actually has a negative impact on your life? When you step back for a second and think about it for yourself, does it really bother you that two men, somewhere out there in the world, love one another? Do you really feel burdened that a family from Pakistan is moving here next week? Does it really affect your life if the girl down the hall is overweight? Think about this carefully before you answer; think really hard about the things that truly impact you on a day to day basis. Think about the struggles you have and where they actually come from. If you can look objectively at your existence and say yes, these things really do affect me, these divisions are legitimate, and my concerns are valid, well, okay. I bid you adieu, fair soldier, the rest of this post isn't for you. I'm sure I will meet you on the battlefield with another profane rant somewhere down the line. But I'm betting most of you, if you're honest with yourselves, will say no. I'm betting that, for most of you, the real struggles in your life, the real unfairness, the real anger, lies in not always being able to make ends meet. In feeling insignificant. In balancing work and kids and love and time to yourself. I'm betting most of you are angry about a car that won't start, a boss that takes advantage of you, people that push ahead of you in line. I'm betting that not a single one of our problems would be solved if everyone magically woke up a size 6, or white, or straight, or pro-choice, or a liberal. These divisions that have been created between us (and they have been created) are false. They are a diversion. They are an effective way to control us. Divide, and conquer.
And if that's really what it is, if we are working day in and day out to afford the cost of being "us", and not "them", if we are paying other people to create our problems for us, only to turn around and pay them again to solve them, well...we should maybe change that, don't you think? If the walls we have built between ourselves are actually locking us in, rather than keeping them out, couldn't we make better use of that space? So I ask you, on this fine Sunday evening, to please ask yourself: what's wrong?