Spirituality for Today – July 2014 – Volume 18, Issue 12

In Plain Sight

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of one red apple among several green apples

A short time ago, a middle-aged woman commented that the troubles plaguing today's society can be traced back to the flower children of the 1960s. I wonder if this insight – one, I might add, that I have been preaching about for the last few decades – will reach deeply enough within her to help her see how she herself may have been infected by some of the moral dysfunction and the false sense of independence promoted by past trends. Pernicious is the insidious process of evil tendencies that initially shock society, then slowly worm its way more and more into common societal practice, then the evil pushes the faithful majority into the minority, and finally becomes the "abnormal normal." No matter how noble an idea (whose time has come) might be, ignoble persons can take and distort the idea and poison an unsuspecting discipleship into espousing a bad seed. Inevitably, the seed must yield a rotten harvest.

False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.

Joseph de Maistre

Seemingly innate in human nature is the conundrum of how people, knowing the better, often choose the worse. There is an illogic that manages occasionally to dominate human thought and to perpetuate itself from age to age. One might imagine a man entering a doctor's office complaining of a persistent headache. They meet him in the examination room and finds the man continuously striking his head with a wooden mallet. The doctor tells the man to go home, take aspirin twice a day and rest. Two days later the man returns, still striking his head with the mallet, and informs the doctor that the headache won't go away. The doctor writes a prescription for a stronger medicine and sends the man home. Three days later the patient, mallet still doing its work, begs the doctor to do something about his headache. The doctor orders an EEG and other tests. One can hope that, at some point, someone realizes the obvious problem and the equally obvious solution: stop banging yourself on the head with that mallet. The cure for many of mankind's maladies may not be so apparent, but there are many problems that can be resolved by admitting where the problem lies.

Delving into the complex and convoluted workings of the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical qualities of the human species is a task for greater minds than mine. Yet, we all are capable of reflection and meditation on what is in need of repair and what remedies might be available. Take the notion of cause and effect. We all are familiar with the adages about sowing what you reap and that the tree will grow as the twig is bent, but if we are not vigilant throughout the growth process, might not the pressures of the moment alter the progress and thus alter the result? The motivating force and the guiding principles behind that vigilance are born of faith in Christ. Perhaps, we fail to realize how often we judge, evaluate, censor, choose, praise and condemn our actions and the actions of others in an effort to achieve some degree of satisfaction in the experience of everyday living. The Christian moral criteria contain the highest principles for living and the highest thoughts of humanity that ever can be offered, but human obstinacy and impertinence easily can lead one to frustration and even despair over this blindness of the ego. But we are not powerless and we are not defeated. Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Yes, God's grace will have to affect the ultimate success of the human endeavor, but, with that grace, we are able to see more clearly the internal and external problems – and the solutions – that are in plain sight.