The quick, the expedient, immediate gratification.
“I want it all and I want it now!”
New, bigger, faster; MORE SUGAR!!
I don’t care where it comes from. I don’t care who made it and how little they were paid. I don’t care how much fossil fuel it took to get it to me and how much extra carbon goes into the atmosphere because of it. I don’t care where the trash goes when I done with it. I don’t care how much someone else lost to give it to me. I just want it!
A crisis of imagination; a crisis of moral imagination.
The same fellow on the radio was recalling an essay by Robert Louis Stevenson, written of course a little over 100 years ago.
Y’all remember Robert Louis Stevenson: Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped. It seems appropriate to be quoting Stevenson right about now.
In Stevenson’s essay quoted by the feller on the radio, he questioned his friend, a banker and with whom he was having an imaginary conversation, about why he was a banker.
The banker replied, “It is my business. It is my duty.”
But Stevenson, who rejected the family business of engineering lighthouses to become a writer and explorer, suggested his friend had mistaken duty for simply his desire to make money. Making money, Stevenson deftly suggested, is not a duty.
No, Stevenson suggested, perhaps we are called to a higher duty.
Christians will end Lent today and celebrate Easter on Sunday. Jews are celebrating Passover. Muslims celebrated only weeks ago the birth of the Prophet of Islam.
All three celebrations by the descendants of Abraham have something in common: they are all celebrations to relinquish that which binds us and look to a time of liberation, of hope.
And if you think it’s purely coincidence that all three occur in the spring (at least in the northern hemisphere) you would be mistaken.
Christians often mistake the time of Lent, the time of preparation for the Cross, as a time for masochistic self-denial; suffering through the absence of chocolate because we love so much chocolate. That misses the point.
Lent is a time to prepare for the liberation of the Cross, which in one of the world’s greatest ironies was originally a tool for cruel capital punishment.
It is the time to reflect on that which keeps us from the Cross’ liberation and set about to remove those barriers so we can be freed. The Cross was death. Easter, Christ’s resurrection is victory over that death; victory over the world’s unending oppression.
Passover, too, celebrates the liberation of the ancient Jews from their Egyptian captors.
Mawlid, the celebration of the birth of the Prophet of Islam, also celebrates liberation from the old order for the liberation to a new enlightenment through the revelation of God’s word. Our Muslim brothers and sisters celebrated Mawlid back in February, this year in the Gregorian calendar.
No doubt we are in a different time than we were just an astonishing short time ago. Physicists might suggest a quantum leap; other scientists a paradigm shift; sailors a sea change. The Latin-to-English word, “cross,” also stems from the same root word as, “crux.” It is a crossroads.
Do we hang on to the old or do we reach for the new, the hope? I will reach for Easter’s victory, for hope and liberation.