A young single father hustles for work. His long story packed into a relatively young life betrays his optimistic demeanor. Hear him describe some of his experiences and it is not hard to admire his determination.
Recently the hustle slowed. The normal avenues through which he was accustomed to paying the bills diminished. Rather than blame an economy or the weather, he got creative. I do not know what trekked thorough his mind as he was assessing his options. One thing is certain he intended to take care of himself and his young daughter, a sweet little girl who seems unaware of the precarious nature of her own existence.
The chosen means to pay bills came rather by surprise. An old hobby of sorts has proven a workable remedy to the slow season for his other sources of income.
We talked before the New Year. He told me how he had decided to give his new venture a try. To his surprise he said, “I sold enough to pay the bills.” Yes, it is legal. Once we discovered what it was we opened up something of a new “market.” Eagerly he aims both to please by assessing customer satisfaction and creatively diversifying his product. I confess to admiration.
This morning I was reading a linked to piece that was posted with a certain air of criticism. As if the systems in which we participate and blinding support are not in some way culpable. Those in the piece found life’s difficulties on a different level but shared a common thread. The way the world is working at present illustrates that desperation is the mother of invention. Rather than critique the details of the posted story I compared the content with the story of the young single father with a young girl. The two groups, if you allow the single father to represent a group, which he does, face the uncertainties of life with an interest to accomplish an internal aim. One group wants to get a college degree that is increasingly difficult to pay for and the other wants to provide the sorts of things young girls long for and see others enjoy while possessing very limited resources.
Common to both groups is their appearance in an era where it is nearly universally agreed that the number of those with less and less is on the increase while at the same time those with more and more grows. Often our means to address the issue is to appeal to individuality. Work harder. Work better. Maybe one day you too may catch a break. But, what if we stopped long enough to pay attention to those who shout that we are interconnected – and not simply by virtue of inhabiting planet earth in 2014? What if we reconfigured how important others are? Not just talk about it but advocate for it.
The obstacle is our own comfort. Our own satisfaction. It is here I think those who claim Jesus should also claim his way. I read where a high profile former pastor suggested that Christians need to spend more time pointing people to individual experiences of salvation rather than be too involved in chafing the world. The logic is often used that if you want to see change in the world, change people. However, what often happens is that those saved people simply alter their individual perspective. Sanctify selfishness.
When we opt for a high individualism we inadvertently choose low community. The consequence is a loss of interconnectedness. We lose the war agains the very systems, structures, and practices that cheapen humanity in favor of what maintains our individual preferences. There is no dying to self. Or, as was described in today’s Daily Dig,
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