I don’t watch TV. There is too much anxiety, fear, anger, focus on entertainment, etc. If you enjoy it, more power to you. It’s not my thing. But I can’t avoid TVs when I go to the gym. They are all over the place, turned to a variety of stations – half of which are “news” oriented. The volume is down on these TVs, but you can’t help but see the pictures and the headlines. Often, you don’t even need the sound in order to know what is being said.
Yesterday, some of the stations broadcast the headline: “Crisis at the border.”
As I did my workout for the day, I let that headline sink in for a bit.
I quickly realized that the headline was inaccurate. I can’t say if there is a crisis at our southern border, or exactly what that crisis is. All too often, catch phrases like “Crisis at the border” convey many ideas and thoughts all in one tiny little phrase.
But my mind wandered a bit – digging in a bit more to the headline. “Crisis at the border.” I understand what is being conveyed in those four words. But I think it’s missing so much.
I think the crisis at the border goes much deeper and extends well beyond the border. Maybe the headline should read something else? Maybe it should broadcast a different message. “Crisis of the heart.” “Crisis of meaning.” “Crisis of identity.” “Crisis of Christianity.” “Crisis of trust.”
I don’t have nice easy solutions for our immigration situation. I do know that until we do some self-examination, we aren’t going to come up with a good solution. I do know that if we fail to acknowledge our brokenness, we’ll never come up with a good solution. I do know that if we fail to work on trust with others, we’ll never come up with a good solution.
We are facing a crisis of the heart, of the soul, of the mind. We face a crisis of who we can trust and why. We face a crisis of agreeing on why the nation exists and what its purpose is going forward. We face a crisis of what it means to be a Christian and what Christians actually do to show they are followers of Jesus. We face a crisis of politics that has supplanted faith for ultimate purpose in life. We face a crisis of fear and anger. We face a crisis of control.
But all these crises a far bigger than a crisis at the border. These crises require a great deal of time, energy, and effort to tackle. Dealing with these crises can’t be handled through a tweet or social media meme in which we get to score some kind of points against our opponents. No, dealing with these crises requires us to stop seeing opponents and adversaries and enemies the way we currently see them.
Instead, we need to see people as people. Especially those who see things differently from us. We need to see what we share in common and build up from there. We need to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers and never will. We need to start with the assumption that people come to their conclusions for very good reasons. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with the conclusion or the reasons. It is acknowledging that people experience the world differently.
If we want to solve the crisis at the border or any other crisis for that matter, then its time to take a breath. To stop seeing everything as an epic battle and instead see the world as a marathon – a long, slogging marathon that is going to take a good bit of time and energy and effort to finish.
Leave beside the handful of professional runners for a moment. I’ve done 11 marathons in my life. I’m part of the 99.9% of the runners who have no chance of winning, yet we still run anyway. We don’t run to win. We run for the joy of running. We run for the challenge of running. We run to push ourselves. We run to learn. And in every marathon I have run, there comes a time when someone needs some help. Sometimes it’s you and sometimes its me. Regardless, the beauty of distance running is that there is always someone right there to help you along. To encourage you. To walk with you if needed. You are all competitors technically. But the results don’t matter if you don’t finish the race. And so you help another runner out. You tell them that you are going to run along side them for a time. You cheer them on. You do this because you’ve been there before – you’ve been on the receiving end. And having someone to help you finish the race – a complete stranger you’ll never see again – wouldn’t have been possible without that person. But you had something in common – a goal, yes. But more importantly, you share humanity – striving, pushing. You share persistence. You share. And when you cross the finish line, you celebrate with the person who helped. And you wish them well.
Crises are like marathons in that regard. We don’t face these crises alone. And yes, we are competitors. But the reality is, unless we assist each other, no one is crossing the finish line because we are all struggling.