The past three weeks I missed posting. My world went upside down, and I was at a complete loss for any practical ideas. We are all going through chaos and stress right now. We are all dealing with different problems right now; I don’t want to elaborate on my own. I’ve been trying to get myself to write a practical post, but I’ve been reeling in the reflection that there are so many things we cannot control. Anything I could think of to say seemed like shooting a popgun at a charging bear. There are things in life that we cannot control or have very limited control of and the current pandemic and the world’s reaction to it is one of those things. I’m personally struggling with hanging onto hope right now. I offer this reflection out of my own struggle.
Hope Holds Hands Prudence.
The news has no shortage of stories of people who did stupid things ended up with corona virus. Some have died. Some people trusted in youth. Some people trusted in God. I’m going to pick on the ones who trusted in God, not because I am anti-religious. I am deeply Christian. That doesn’t mean God wants me to throw my brains out the window. God gave me a brain and the obligation to have regard for my life and the life of my fellow human beings. In the Gospel, it wasn’t God who told Jesus to throw himself off the Temple; it was the devil. There are times when we really need to take risks for a greater good, but to do so without need is to substitute wishful thinking for genuine hope.
Wishful thinking—or idealism apart from concrete realities—whether you dress it in religious clothing or secular clothing—will do nothing to protect people from viruses and will do nothing to rebuild our society when all this is past. Prudence, in classical philosophy, is the virtue that helps a person apply timeless principles in concrete, changing circumstances. It is the “hinge” on which the other virtues turn. Prudence looks at the known facts of a situation and decides the best course of action. It distinguishes between courage and foolhardiness; it also recognizes the time when we must hazard everything for the some greater good. In other words, sometimes it will look like fear and other times like foolhardiness. We all must make our own decisions in light of our own circumstances.
I hope that my life is in the hands of a loving God. It means that I will hope that God will guide my prudential judgment, and if my judgment should fail, I hope that God will bring a greater good out of it.
Hope Holds Hands with Humility.
Something that calls itself hope but doesn’t have humility is not genuine hope.
Hope sometimes means letting good of our own ideas about what is best. Maybe the best ideas are coming from someone I disagree with.
Hope comes from learning to see beyond ideological differences, working together, and learning to compromise. I hope that the future will bring a return to focus on the common good over party politics. In human terms, that is the only hope that I see for the future of our world.
Hope Transcends This World
“I believe in the resurrection of the dead, and life of the world to come.”
This week is Holy Week—the week when Christians around the world commemorate the death of Jesus and prepare to celebrate the Resurrection. We look forward to our own resurrection. It isn’t trendy these days to continue to believe in the Christian faith. I’ve never had much use for trends. God has held my hand through every crisis, and I trust He will hold my hand through the ultimate crisis— my own death.
Maybe you don’t share my faith. I do hope that you believe in something beyond a blind physical universe that cares no more for you than it does a virus. If all you believe in right now is in the possibility of goodness and love that transcends this poor world, I hope that together we can make it through this crisis and into a better future.
I have no more words for now. I feel that Pope Francis said everything better in his Urbi et Orbi address than I could hope to say it. I refer you to that.
Maybe next week I’ll write about foraging for spring greens or something. In the meantime, I hope your trials are not great, but if they are, I hope you have the strength to bear them.
Have a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.