I am not sure why Americans are so set on individualism and being right. Perhaps its our founding fathers, or the pioneers that were imperialists that saw those there before them as uncivilized instead of different. That somehow its still so highly prevalent in society to have non-collectivist thoughts. That we say we want to protect the most vulnerable and the supposed truly religious will fight every election for the rights of the unborn, but then absolutely turn their back on every other hurting most vulnerable group because it doesn't line up with their ideals. That somehow because they have lost their innocence in the world, somehow that makes them less vulnerable. Perhaps its that they are harder to deal with, scars and bumps and bruises and all. But how did they get those scars, from our own want to be right, to be in power, to be comfortable in what we know. It's absolutely difficult to truly want to get outside of one's comfort zone. We instead a lot of times will do the bare minimum to feel better about ourselves. And if someone does go above and beyond we think we could never do that or that they are crazy or just a Saint for doing so. Are we then actually trying to be Saints for Jesus, or are we just trying to get by in our comfy homes without distress?
I read the book Kristin Lavaransdatter about two years ago, and it still sticks with me. She was someone that struggled internally and externally with her choices and still felt it her duty to help the helpless and in the end she actually died from giving dignity to another. It's difficult for some of us to see our own sacrifices as something that is saint making, but instead we see them as maddening, and perhaps its because we are absolutely terrible at boundary setting. Yes, people are suffering other than with the actual disease of Covid-19 but is there some way we could actually see our discomfort as something that is life giving to another. That in some ways its an absolutely visible bit of redemptive suffering. I remember contemplating redemptive suffering for a while and trying to figure out why us as humans struggle with it so very much. I concluded that within it being doctrine, only Buddhists and Catholics attack the subject at all. Unfortunately, in America, we are absolutely very Protestant in our understanding of life, that even Buddhism and Catholicism take a cultural aspect Protestant of throwing out redemptive suffering. So we bicker and we argue that we are suffering too, and yes, yes we are so very are, but can we do something with that suffering, or does it just sit there?
I don't know what is going to reconcile us as a nation to heal all the wounds we have uncovered or highlighted this year. So much has been spewed at us that our brains are barely keeping up and for many, there is no longer the ability to discern what is truth. Perhaps we can start by setting those healthy boundaries of saying no to what is necessary to understand who God wants us to be and then to offer our own suffering for those more vulnerable than us.
There is another part of this reconciliation that is way more vulnerable to me, but perhaps its for another day. This is what I can offer today.