Monday, February 13, 2006

A Shortage of Joy

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Take a look around you. We are at war. Bird flu epidemics loom. Terrorism is at our gates. People have lost trust for all the old institutions that used to be bulwarks of the American Experience. Crime is up. Students have to walk through gun-detectors in high schools. Mere children have to make adult decisions about drugs and sex. Divisions between us all seem to grow larger every day. Justice seems like a vain hope.

What on earth am I talking about joy for? Am I some sort of deluded Pollyanna who has dustbunnies for brains? Shouldn't I just put my shoulder to the wheel and soldier on crusading for what I believe in?

My life gets serious. Very serious. I read a quote from Lily Tomlin - "No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up," and I find myself agreeing. There are days when I start reading the paper and watching the news, and can almost feel myself spiral into that place where the world feels irredeemably tainted and dangerous. I feel helpless in the face of it, sucked into a vortex.

This is no way to live.

This is a way to die.

I know that to do what needs to be done - to provide help where I can - to be a woman who lives on different terms from the machines of evil - that I need to not be coming from a place of despair. If I try to root in rage, there will be no moral profit to it. If I try to root in anguish, the roots will not hold. I need to be coming from a place of joy. Defiant joy, perhaps, but joy.

If I spend my days not seeing what is good, and right, and whole, and valorous, and beautiful, and healing and hopeful -- and if I spend my days not celebrating that -- well, then I have surrendered to all those forces in the world that prosper from chaos and fear and anger and hopelessness.

And, Oh Lord above, I have struggled too hard to come this far to do that.

3 Comments:

Blogger samtzmom said...

My favorite saying to my husband is that we can't control circumstances many times, but what we can control is how we respond to them. If we let things pile up on us and overwhelm us, guess what? They do! If instead we prefer to see that we'll get through it, and tomorrow is another opportunity for a joyful day, gues what? It is! :c) SO much of how we respond to the angst of this world is fully in our control. I'm with you, Mata... we can choose to focus on the joy.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, hang in there, tomorrow will surly be a better day.

12:04 PM  
Blogger LutheranChik said...

Sometimes it's hard for me to move from anger to defiant joy. My blog post last night was creeping in that direction...but today I find myself on the angry side of the equation again. One step forward, two steps back...

1:20 PM  

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