Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Harnessing Anger

Politicians are good at it. Facebook is perfecting it. Harnessed anger drives movements, like Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the Proud Boys.

We can let others harness our anger, and we will most likely get played or used. We will share angry social media posts or write a big check. Harnessed anger drives nations to war, and pits people against other people. Politics today thrives on harnessed anger. Both left and right need angry people to drive their agendas. And they need a good enemy to help them raise money. 

What would happen if we harnessed our own anger? We can use that negative energy in a positive way, to fight cancer, human trafficking, or child abuse. We can harness that anger on a personal level, and hate poor health, foolish debt, addiction, and broken relationships enough to make a change.

If we start thinking about using anger in a positive way, we will take a closer look at that anger. Is it helping anything for you to be angry at that politician? that boss? that spouse? that broken appliance? that blind referee? 

If anger is such a strong motivator, why not use that to your own advantage? Be angry at the right things, and do something about it.

And, please, let's stop being played by all those people who thrive on the anger of the masses!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Sterile Souls

Modern farming has sought to improve on natural soil. Weeds and bugs can be so annoying, so why not just kill everything? So we sterilize the soil and add the nutrients that we need. They say we only need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, NPK. That's what those numbers stand for on fertilizer bags, like 10-10-10. All the natural and unpredictable stuff is stripped from the soil. And plants flourish. They grow bigger, stronger, faster, with better yields than ever--in the short run. In the long run, it takes more and more inputs. The pests adapt and return with vengeance. And the soil becomes so poor that it washes away with the rain. All this requires more ingenuity, more engineering, and more intervention. And sadly, the nutritional value of these industrial farming products is far inferior to the old, natural fruit.

I wonder if the modern soul feels like that, like the sterilized soil. All the man-made inputs pervade life and leave us stripped of all the earthy, unpredictable richness of natural life. Virtual reality promises safe adventures to tourist sites and fantasy lands. It's just as good as being there. Virtual meetings promise to connect people, just like face-to-face, all done digitally. Social media algorithms feed us exactly what we need to stay engaged with our devices. Smart watches and smart mattresses tell us exactly how well we sleep each night.

Life can be bigger, stronger, faster, with better productivity. But what is the cost? We need more inputs. Vitamin pills fill in the gaps left by our processed foods. All this engagement stresses us out, but there's a pill for that. We have heart issues, high blood pressure, diabetes--but again, we have chemical solutions for all these problems. Oh, and the side effects can be addressed with medication as well.

Look at all our improvements. We may have more stuff and more convenience, but is life really better? How's the soil of your life? What would it be like to get back the richness that is so mysterious and so life-giving? It takes time, years, to restore sterile soil. Restoration begins with eliminating all the sterilizing inputs, then adding organic material, and sowing life-giving seeds. Over time, soil is restored. It becomes fertile and rich. And it gives life.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Prayers for Alec Baldwin

Mistakes were made. Consequences were horrific. So much went wrong on Oct. 22 when Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer on the set of "Rust." Two other people should have checked the gun before it landed in Baldwin's hand. And, clearly, Baldwin should have checked it too.

I've never been on a movie set, but I have shot guns many times. As a Boy Scout I heard repeatedly, "Never assume a gun is unloaded." Never. A corollary to that advice would be, "Never assume a gun has only blanks in it."

It is easy for me to claim that, of course, I would never have made that mistake. But I have made so many mistakes. I have so often been careless. I have left on stove burners. I have left gas caps off the gas tank. I have (accidentally) driven through red lights like they were stop signs. Just two weeks ago I had two mattresses blow off a trailer and block two lanes of US 220 in Madison. 

Never in these mistakes has anyone died. But they could have. I would have been responsible for a death. And I would have been horrified. My life would have been changed forever.

And so I pray for Alec Baldwin, for him to grieve, to respond, to search his own soul, for him even to grow. And I pray for all those devastated by the death of Halyna Hutchins' death. But only Alec pulled the trigger. That's a burden I can't imagine.