The college where I work is a great place filled with great people. The campus is beautiful, the professors excellent, and the staff both accommodating and friendly.
But it is still a college. And as it is such, my work environment harbors the sort of modern, liberal predilections that a more traditional person like me can’t seem to understand sometimes. Some days, many days, I am both generally exasperated and specifically confused by what I see.
A few weeks ago the college held what is annually billed as Pick Your Cause Week. Each day brought exhibits, lectures, and a wealth of information concerning a particular organization or subject. This year children of alcoholics, muscular dystrophy, women’s cancers, domestic violence, and the poor were chosen.
Though there are some things here at work that I find questionable and a few I find just plain strange, I like this. I like it a lot. We should all have a Pick Your Cause Week.
I find it sadly ironic that in this age of computers and satellite television, when the smallest event that happens in the smallest corner of the smallest country on the other side of the world can be instantly beamed right into our living rooms, we’ve really never been so separated from one another.
The media blitzes us with a constant barrage of suffering and need. We see footage of disaster and crime and hear stories of loss and despair. And though we try every day to nourish whatever hope we have and coax it to grow, there is the daily reminder that our world seems to be teetering on the edge of a very dark abyss and there is nothing that can pull it back onto solid ground.
It all can be just a little too much to bear. For me, anyway.
So I do what a good Christian should. I pray. But I’ve found that I often use prayer as an excuse, a poor example of doing something. As much as I pray for this world and all the people in it, I find that I do little else about it. And while those prayers are vital, they shouldn’t be the final solution. Asking God to help the world and asking Him to equip me to help the world are two different things. I don’t often get that.
I have a tendency to shrink the world. Shrink it so its dimensions extend no further than the small part I happen to occupy. Shrink it to only that which affects me. My world is my family and my town and my work. Whatever else that happens outside of my world that is sad and regrettable and unfortunate affects me emotionally. But it is also none of my business. I try to ignore it. I don’t hope it will go away because I don’t think it ever will, I just try to stay out of its way and hope it doesn’t find me or the ones I care about.
All of that is of course the silliest thing any Christian should ever believe, and yet I do. And so do a lot of us. We all at some point fall for the great lie that there is nothing we can do about the state of things, and in doing so we risk developing a mindset that is perhaps as unchristian as we can get:
We don’t care what happens so long as it doesn’t happen to us.
That is why a Cause is so important. We are all called to spend our time and energy toward something that will continue on long after we leave this world. It is our purpose, our mission. No matter who we are or what we do or where our talents lie, we are all here for the same reason: to make things better.
To heal the wounded. Clothe the naked. Feed the poor. To offer help to the helpless and hope to the hopeless.
And the light of God to the darkness.