Monday, January 10, 2011
A Nation, Broken
Over the weekend, the images crowded in, online and on television: U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shot at a Tucson shopping mall. Six people dead, including a nine-year-old girl born on Sept. 11, 2001.
Within minutes, it seemed, politics took over. Economist Paul Krugman, writing shortly after the shooting, connected Jared Loughner, the assailant, to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party and Sarah Palin. With no evidence whatsoever. A Democrat had been shot, and so he assumed someone connected to Republicans or the Tea party must have done it. The sheriff in Tucson, a personal friend of the congresswoman, rushed to a similar judgment but was less specific. The media ran with that narrative for a while, most likely because it fits with the media often seems to want to believe.
It took the FBI to start calming things down. There’s no established or suspected connection, the agency said. If anything, what little anecdotal information suggests the shooter leaned the other way politically but was clearly and emphatically messed up mentally.
Connecting others to hate is in and of itself a hate crime. And there’s no end of it.
Civility and governance: broken.
Then there’s the state of our finances.
Our government functions with no budget. The state governments collectively do little better, and some of them – California, New York and Illinois, to cite only three – do a lot worse. And the national debt? How much do our great-grandchildren, not even born yet, owe the People’s Republic of China?
Illinois has a novel idea to solve its debt problem: borrow more. Delay the inevitable for a year or two. Maybe something will turn up. In the meantime, let’s increase the state income tax by 75 percent.
Finances: broken. The political leadership to tackle finances: paralyzed. In the meantime, one party is focused on seizing the initiative for the elections in 2012 while the other is focused on how much staff can be crammed through via executive and administrative fiat.
Finally, there are our churches, or the church. I have this idea in my head, and perhaps in my heart, that so much of what is broken today is a result, not from the nation walking away from God, but from the church not doing what it’s supposed to do, and that is to be salt and light. We’ve drunk the same Kool-Aid everyone else has. We’re more about celebrity and mega-size than we are about salt and light. We’ve embraced the tenets of business without realizing that it comes with a cost, a huge cost.
And then I remind myself what God can do with broken things. That that’s really all he’s ever had to work with on this planet – broken things. It’s through the broken things – the things that don’t matter in the eyes of this world – that he creates mighty works. And it was through a small group of broken men and a few women that an empire was eventually conquered.
So I pray.
My prayer is not for revival.
My prayer is not for our nation to turn back to God.
My prayer is not for our churches to be filled.
Instead, my prayer is for God to use broken things.
Peter Pollock is hosting a One Word Blog Carnival on “broken.” To see other posts, please visit Peter’s site.
Photograph: Ruined House by Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.