I’ve never liked to post things about politics or current events much. I’ve always avoided that kind of thing. Debating but not being able to reach an agreed-upon conclusion, one that both people are mostly satisfied with, makes me somewhat anxious. Seeing injustice and hurt without being able to do anything to help is extremely frustrating. However, given the newest horrors of current events and politics and just general no-good stuff in the United States and abroad, I feel driven to share my thoughts. I’m not perfect. No one is. My reactions might be a bit raw, but if you don’t feel angry about what’s happening in the world, well, I think that’s a bigger issue. I promise I’m not trying to make you panic or make you sadder. Just the opposite. That said, deep breath, have courage, here we go.
I was brought up in an ostensibly non-denominational Christian family. I attended Baptist schools, and a Quaker university. In church, most of the time, the events in the book of Revelation were treated as literal coming events that needed interpretation every now and then. The antichrist was a literal person, the tribulation a literal time of testing, and it was probably coming next year, if not next week.
As I grew older and discovered for myself what I believed about the end-times: starting as staunch a pre-tribulation rapture believer, going to a possibly mid-tribulation rapture believer. Eventually, I thought some of the contents in Revelation might have already happened in some historical context, with some waiting to be fulfilled later, though perhaps not everything is completely literal.
That said, social justice and the idea that maybe, just maybe, the world isn’t actually going to end until years and years from now, have both become rather central for me. I align myself with Quakers, or Friends, more than anything. Living simply, loving others, fighting for what is right and advocating for social justice in the world, these are things I hold true.
The events of the last few days, even months, have made me think about the tribulation and the end of the world again. This time, rather fatalistically, I think, I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s not a literal testing time after all. If we’re not in it yet, we are barrelling towards it. Again, I’m not entirely convinced the world’s going to end soon. Ever since the time of the apostles, people have been claiming to know when Jesus is coming back or when the world is going to self-destruct. They’ve all been wrong. A lot of things have been getting better: compare today’s knowledge of disease, for example, to that of the Middle Ages. Of course we don’t know everything. That’s not the point.
A lot of things have been improving, but a lot have been staying the same, or, heaven forbid, getting worse. The events of the last few days—Christina Grimmie’s death, the shooting in Orlando, men raping unconscious women—the last several months—America’s current political circus that we call the presidential race—and the last year or two or three or more—school shootings, church burnings, hate crimes, police brutality—all have activated my instincts.
Fight or flight.
Hide under the covers and never come out because not only am I not safe as a woman, neither are some of my nearest and dearest because they are gay or black or also women. Or I feel like selling everything, giving up all my plans, and going to war: throw everything I have and am into volunteering, donating blood and money and time, and becoming an advocate whenever and wherever I can, partnering with those who still believe this world isn’t a lost cause.
Fight or flight.
I learned recently there is a third option to that response, and it’s called freeze. It’s what happens to small furry animals staring into the eyes of a snake. All their muscles, their minds, just stop, freeze, and there’s nothing to be done until it’s too late.
I know a lot of people are in the flight category where the American presidential elections are concerned. They don’t want to participate at all, given the choices presented. Checking out of that right, privilege, and responsibility won’t help. At best, it’ll do nothing. At worst, it’ll create even more problems.
When you, as a person, also have pressing issues of your own to handle, commitments you’ve made before things got even more obviously serious than before, you might freeze. You can’t do anything to help. You don’t have the time or the money. Everything is awful, though, so what can you do? So you stop. Then you hide. You come out briefly from your nest, then retreat. You can’t help right now, when you can barely help yourself.
No one blames you for that. It’s not your fault.
If we human beings could work together, doing whatever we can—whether that’s voting, praying, helping those around you—I believe we could prevent the Earth from becoming hell. At least that.
Then again, knowing the amount of people who believe no matter what we do, the world is on a very speedy one-way track into the Pit, making the Earth less hellish is going to be made more difficult. Not impossible, but problematic. At least that.
Just because you feel that the world will end at a moment’s notice doesn’t excuse you from making the time until then as good and peaceful and loving as you can. To quote the 11th Doctor: “What’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later. The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.”
If you believe, as I do, that when your time on Earth is done, you’ll be held accountable for your actions, why would you not try at least a little to keep people from killing and destroying each other and the Earth?
It’s the parable of the servant given one talent, or denomination of money, and instead of at least putting it in the bank to gain a little interest, they buried it.
It’s the idea of: “I thought the world was ending tomorrow, so I didn’t do anything. I could have donated to this charity, or volunteered here, or spoken up against injustice, or helped any other way, but what was the point?”
Do what you can, when you can. That’s the point. Even if the world is going to end tomorrow—and I don’t think it is—you still have today. Please make it count for the good. Please pray for peace, and live in hope that it’s coming.
Fight, flight, or freeze.
Please fight for a better world.
Don’t lose hope.