Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.
My reflection for today was getting a little out of hand and I realized I wouldn’t be able to do it justice and finish by midnight (which is only a half-hour away). So, I will only have a few thoughts to share tonight, while the piece I was working on percolates.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been listening to an audio recording of Kwame Anthony Appiah’s book The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity. Appiah is an author whose work I’ve enjoyed as “The Ethicist” in the New York Times Magazine, and a professor of philosophy (formerly at Princeton, currently at NYU). In The Lies That Bind, he tackles the question of identity from the perspectives of nationality, religion, race and class. (He may move on to other perspectives, but the section on class is as far as I’ve gotten.)
Listening to this recording has made me aware in ways both painful and guiltily pleasurable of my own social location as a well-educated kid from a professional, middle class family. I am aware that, although I have worked hard (at times) and made wise decisions (every once in a while), my current, comfortable social standing is due as much to the luck of the draw as any merit my activities and talents have produced.
This is what I am pondering tonight.
By sheer force of luck, I live in the most powerful empire the world has known since the beginning of human history. By sheer force of luck, I find myself warm and well-fed and comfortably employed. By sheer force of luck, my health is good, and my mind is stable (due to the wonders of modern medicine).
I thank God for all of this.
But I am also plagued with guilt as I am mindful of those whose countries are torn by violence tonight. I am mindful of families within this nation that are hungry tonight. I am mindful that there are those who, through no fault of their own, have lost a reason to hope.
So, what do I do?
I think that, first, I pray. I pray for the poor, the sick, the needy. I pray that God will somehow alleviate the suffering of the world. I pray that humanity will turn its hearts to one another in love instead of strife.
I pray that God will find some way to use me, and my privilege and my talents in the establishment of a more perfect world. And I pray for the strength to keep fighting until either that day comes when the world will be a place of peace and love… or die hoping that such a world will come soon.
If you pray, please pray with me for this world.
And, if you don’t pray, please continue to do the good work you know how to do to make things better for all of us, not just some.
Thank you for your time and attention.
I’d love to know your thoughts on what you’ve read.
Please comment, below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May God richly bless you on your journey.