Lead us, Not


A few fighter jets flew over a parking lot at the beach. It happens a lot, and every time I can tell the tourists as they’re the ones running back in a store or holding their hands over their ears. It can be deafening, no doubt, but when you hear them all the time you become numb, complacent, and your tolerance of the disturbing afterburn steadily increases so that you’re aware of them passing more as a passing thought than a shocking revelation.

When I first lived around these jets I was one of those teenagers who tried to be cool, but every single time ran inside to avoid the sounds from cracking my skull and blowing out my eardrums like popping bubblegum. As years passed new people who traveled to the area would question how I could live there. But I’d say, “It’s really not that bad once you get used to it, and they’re usually done by evening.” Eventually I barely noticed the jets at all. I had so adjusted to the disturbing sound that I did not even flinch. My determination at one time to either move or get them moved to another base in another state had been tamed by overwhelming presence. I had gotten used to the sound so that it didn’t bother me anymore.

Always start with the metaphor.

Sometimes we make the mistake of getting used to something that never should have happened to begin with. For instance, the Vatican has overwhelmingly voted to change the translation of the Lord’s Prayer. It’s true, and despite resistance, it is hard to deny the rational decision. The current reading, which has been enshrined since the first English translation, says, “Lead us not into temptation.” Yes, this line always bothered me as well, but I could never articulate why. Well, someone finally articulated it. That line as it currently reads is basically suggesting that we are asking God to not lead us into something evil, suggesting if we do choose something evil, it is actually God’s fault for leading us there to begin with. The new translation reads something to the effect of “Do not abandon us during temptation.” It makes way more sense and is hard, semantically, to not argue is better than what we’ve grown used to and closer, according to experts, to the original intent of the phrase. Still, people will resist, not because they think it through, not because they have theological training, and not because they necessarily understand it to begin with, but simply because it is what they are used to and don’t see any reason to change. This is frustrating when so many people, for no other reason than it is easier to just keep things the same, contradict those with the expertise necessary to make the call.

The change is right, no matter how hard it might be for some to accept.

And on that note, the literal:

When did it become okay to ridicule others? When did we become complacent about harsh personal criticism and blatant bullying? At one point not too long ago most people were taken aback by the rude and unnerving comments which seem to have become commonplace. Are we growing numb to immorality and unethical behavior?

Sometimes we know that, “Something has to change. Things cannot continue like this.” Sometimes we don’t know what’s going to happen next, but we are absolutely certain it can’t be what is happening now.

Accepting change is difficult, both for the better and the worse. Like staying in a bad job, like staying in a bad relationship, like staying in the same place, sometimes it is almost easier to accept the complacent illogical current way of life than to deal with the difficulty which lies ahead during the transition to something better, something, though challenging, with promise and hope. Worse still, though, are the adjustments we make to accept what we have; we get used to the noise which at one time was deafening but somehow became unnoticeable. That is the tragedy; when we fail to recognize the compromised state we are in by the simple virtue of some slow erosion of perspective. It took a while after making a change for me to step back and say, “Wow, what the hell was I thinking?”

I’m writing this the afternoon of Thanksgiving. In the worst of situations over the last few years I still can’t think of anything for which I’m not thankful. Is that a version of “everything happens for a reason”? I don’t think so, particularly since I am a firm believer in the free will to use our God-given decision-making capabilities wisely. Still, I’m grateful so many have the wisdom to know the difference between what to accept and what to change. Like knowing that Thanksgiving should be in October or that we need to stop changing the damn time twice a year. Oh, and the Electoral College has got to go.

But more to the point, it has been two years now and too many people are getting too used to the president’s rhetoric and ways. This week he thanked a country for being our ally whose crown prince ordered the brutal assassination and dismemberment of a journalist, the same week he blamed the forest fires on poor management, the same week he ridiculed the decisions made by federal judges, the same week he said what he is most grateful for is how great he has been for the country.

Too many people have accepted his despicable ways because of a tax refund; they’ve sold out, they’ve been paid off; they’re little more than whores along with the president himself. When did it become okay to act like spoiled children? When did it become okay to advocate policy which we would never tolerate in our adversaries?

Do not get used to the noise. Be constantly bothered by the afterburn of djt’s irreverence. He is leading us down a path toward demise of the U.S. constitution and civic behavior. In our own ways, each of us must not allow the constant disappointment and immoral behavior to become what happens when people start saying, “Well, what else did you expect from him?” That response is a half-step from acceptance. That’s unacceptable.

Change is not easy. Change can be damn near impossible sometimes; especially if we have grown so used to one way of doing things and especially if someone keeps telling us exactly what we want to hear and making promises we want to believe.

We can promise ourselves this with certainty: if things don’t change, they stay the same. As obvious as that seems, we don’t always understand the often dire consequences of familiarity.

He’s got to go, we know that. The real danger is the numbers of people who are getting used to him and his childish behavior.


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