Crushing drought in the Midwest.
The fiscal cliff.
The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.
The Sikh temple massacre.
And, of course, Newtown.
For most Americans 2012 can't end soon enough. But will anything really be new tomorrow, the first day of 2013? No. The incessant chatter on these issues misses the point. There is no medical, psychological, economic or political solution to problems that are spiritual and moral in nature.
Some people think the answer is to buy more guns and hunker down. Gun sales spiked after Newtown. Americans now own more than 200 million guns. Other people will resolve with all that's in them to bring about change. But doing so by yourself is a lonely undertaking. I think that's why so many resolutions are quickly forgotten or abandoned – because no one else reminds you of them.
I have done a lot of thinking in the wake of Newtown, but it wasn't until I was preparing to attend the memorial service for a beautiful, smiling, laughing, joyful young teacher, Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, that I realized why solutions evade us. It's because we want them right now. We want instant gratification. We want a change of laws or values or behavior that's evident in everyone. And we want those changes immediately, without work and without waiting, so we can get beyond the grief and back to “normal.”
I hate to break this to you: Normal doesn't exist anymore. And I honestly wonder if it ever did. “Normal” means a predictably safe status quo that allows us to do whatever we want without regard for the consequences.
If we really want to see change, you and I – not somebody else – must be prepared to act like farmers, who plow the field, remove the rocks, plant the crop, cultivate the field daily, make sure the crop is fed and watered, never take a day off until the harvest is ripe, and then reap when the time is right.
That takes patience. Commitment. Love. Forgiveness. Faith. Hope. You won't do that on your own. So either you ask for divine help or you … Or you what?