The unintended casualty of being better informed
This is an age of unprecedented information. What’s more, this has led to very helpful understanding about why life is sometimes so difficult. The challenges and obstacles in your life might have little or nothing to do with you!
As we’ve grown in our understanding of history, social systems and injustices, we’ve come to understand that our individual struggle might be the result of the (sometimes immoral, unethical, or even illegal) actions and policies of others. And while we might not know or interact with those others, they can influence our lives in profound ways. One example is the legacy of slavery in this country and its impact on race relations today. Another example might be the ways in which global trade and commerce affect local job markets, employment opportunities, future earnings, and pockets of poverty in different neighborhoods.
I think it’s a good thing that we have more and deeper understanding of how all these events, decisions and powerful leaders (past and current) are connected to our everyday lives.
But there’s a dark side to it as well. As it becomes more logical and natural to hold others responsible for the ways in which their decisions have led to our difficult circumstances, it also becomes tempting to let ourselves off the hook for our own decisions and actions. IOW, we can get so caught up in identifying how others have made a mess out of things that we start to think that we have no responsibility whatsoever. It’s the unintended casualty of being better informed.
As an individual, you or I CANNOT:
- Dictate economic forces
- Undo the injustices of others
- Set national policy
- Change social systems
- Choose a better family in which to be born
But as an individual you or I CAN:
- Determine to grow in Christlike character
- Choose to forgive
- Decide to ask for help
- Act in loving ways toward others (even the “unlovable”)
- Admit when we’ve messed up
- Spend our time and money on things that matter
- Use our voice to speak truth to power
- Change our daily routines in order live out our beliefs
- Choose friends who will encourage us to become healthy
The challenge we all face is in accepting and embracing responsibility for our own growth and change. But that’s precisely what Jesus calls us to do. Paul the apostle put it like this:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
You and I CAN put off the old self, and we CAN put on the new self. If you want more specific details, Paul offers some powerful and practical steps on how to do that in the following verses. Check them out here.
By all means let’s be better informed. But hopefully we can avoid becoming a casualty in the process. Feel free to add your comments in the section below.