Pendulous Times

Changes in the last few decades in the United States in regard to marriage, the dignity of life, self-empowerment, feminism, abortion, and racial issues have been significant. They have caused many to become angry, worried or even depressed–whether they feel that there have been too many changes, or not enough fast enough.

World-view and personal philosophy fuels how we see things and react. I try to resist black-and-white, linear or negative philosophies. I have read and re-read the Bible. I pray and I trust God with any matter in which I am confused or even disappointed. I do not wish for “X” country to be “nuked,” or for those “Y” people to go to hell. I do not believe that violent acts are the answer. In the big picture I believe that God’s got this. He is Love and therefore He is just and merciful. I still see much good in this world.

It is not relativistic to acknowledge that we are living in time. If there are alternate realities or eternity, well, we are still here and we cannot avoid the passage of time, aging and death. Our cultural climate will shift with time. My mind often analyzes concepts in images. The image of a pendulum helps grapple with the world and its polarized right/left, political and philosophical extremes. I think of the constantly moving, never static Focault Pendulum we visited as schoolchildren at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

Standing on a high floor, looking over the railing we all stared, mesmerized, as the 50-foot-long pendulum swung slowly through the center of a large circle on the floor below below, reaching out to a point on the perimeter to knock over a pin at its furthest reach. It seemed still for a moment, but then reversed, and headed in the opposite direction to repeat the process, back and forth, slowly rotating round and round, eventually knocking over every pin on the circumference of the circle. The point of the exhibit was to prove that the earth rotated, but I believe that it can serve as a metaphor to grapple with the times, and to argue for love.

Throughout tragic events in history (slavery, concentration camps, genocides) there arose incredible individuals who led others, who helped and inspired despite their horrid circumstances. Fred Rogers famously quoted his mother’s advice, that in troubled times he should “look for the helpers.” Look for the heroes who inspire.

The pendulum reminds me that times will indeed change. It passes through the middle all too swiftly, where there could be more understanding and compromise. Times may shift as significantly as we’ve seen politically in the United States from one extremely different President to another. At one far reach of the pendulum of time something is outlawed, but at the opposite it becomes legal.

Be patient. There is a way through whatever mess you see. Heroes will indeed emerge. Maybe you are one of them. Keep focused on the good that still exists, and strive for love and understanding. The ability to have compassion and to stand in another person’s shoes makes life much more meaningful and full of hope. Love not only endures throughout the languorous swing of the pendulum through time, but it heals, and it brings us all closer to God.