A few weeks ago, I read this column by syndicated Washington Post columnist Esther J. Cepeda. It's short, so I encourage you to read the whole thing, but just in case you don't, here are the highlights.
Recently, all signs have pointed to the fact that a lot of people -- especially those of us with the unbending egotistical belief that we have what it takes to be among the few survivors of a cataclysm -- are sort of pining for "the end."
How else to explain the zeal with which news of the bizarre Miami tragedy, in which a naked man attacked a homeless man by stripping his clothes off and then mauling his face, spurred rumors of a coming zombie apocalypse?
It's very true that the news has been exceptionally dismal and bizarre in this post-9/11 world. And Cepeda writes that some people took comfort in the possibility of the Mayan calendar predicting the Apocalypse this December.
After all, when things are this bad, they can't exactly get much worse, right? At least if the world ends, the violence and turmoil we're experiencing will go with it.
Poverty, war, injustice, abuse, divorce, abortion, infidelity ... they've always been with us. Read the Old Testament if you need evidence. Cepeda continues:
It seems like everything's going to pieces anyway, so why not entertain the possibility that the end is near? It's comforting. How else are we expected to cope...?To those who lack faith, it's very easy to despair. Without faith, there's no way out of this. We are helpless and there's no hope, never mind an explanation of why this is happening.
But for those with faith, the truth is simple: this world isn't home. This isn't the way things were meant to be. We are called to something much greater. These things are written on the hearts of every person, theist or otherwise.
That's how I would answer Esther Cepeda. We cope because we believe this is not the end, and that there are better things in store.
More than that, however, we also believe that redemption is possible here and now. It takes a lot to change a society, but it begins with one heart at a time. Hearts can change. Sometimes, all they need is someone to remind them.
Unfortunately, Jesus said it best: "The harvest is ready, but the laborers are few."
Clearly, we still have work to do. Let's get out there and do it.