Opinion: Same old, same new
Written by Shernell Edney
November 9, 2009
When I look at the news today, I sometimes find myself annoyed. I am frustrated not just by the too often lopsided voice commentating through the microphone, but by the co-signers surrounding the water coolers that blindly follow the status quo.
I think to myself, "You've got to be kidding me that the news is airing the segment on the update of the Afghanistan war after it updates us on the status of Jon and Kate!" I internally struggle with how there is so much in our communities to be done, yet it's almost as if the needs don't exist if the mainstream media doesn't say so.
I have to admit to many areas of negligence myself. The major one is a stifling feeling of overwhelming helplessness. Where should I begin?
Being 27 in 2009, I imagine, feels an awful lot like being 27 in 1969: an out of control war, dangerous acts of terrorism (foreign and domestic) being practiced daily, and until his death in 1963, Kennedy was considered to be the most left-wing President to date.
I wonder why it is that in over 40 years we seem to be right back where we were. Then I'm reminded of the words written in Ecclesiastes 1:9, "That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun."
Admittedly, these words can be discouraging. An interpretation that suggests that there's no hope and that 40 years from now the "same old, same old" will be the case is not far fetched. But I feel we must look deeper in order not to see the same old, but the same new.
Just as 40 years ago there was the presence of a horrible war, there was also the birth of a generation that refused to accept it. Just as there was horrendous hatred and rampant racism, there was also the unity of a people who decided to not just accept their humanity, but declare the dignity that went along with it.
I have to further admit an attitude of comfort that sometimes makes me feel like my generation shouldn't have to fight for anything because so much fighting was done before we came along. But there is also a nagging feeling that continues to bother me. It forces me to accept the notion that my current perception of social comfort is merely a consolation prize, replacing the true victory that could be had if we all joined together to FIGHT.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not speaking of violence. I'm using the word "fight" in the same context as the apostle Paul when he said, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold onto eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
I suppose the answer to feeling overwhelmed is fighting with faith. Believing that any step toward righteousness is effective in some way. By laying hold to eternal life, we can begin to let go and take more risks on the behalf of others. We are each others witnesses for we confess through our struggles with mankind the necessity for God in our lives.
It's the same old same old to be frustrated with the news. It's the same old same old to feel helpless in the fight for a better world.
But let's engage in a practice of the "same old, same new" by taking the old words of Scripture and birthing from them a newness of life. Let's take the example of those that have gone before us and won battles, perhaps outnumbered physically, but never spiritually. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
Let's not be comforted with second place race relations, but truly call prejudices to light so that we may one day enjoy the victory of the fight. Although a lovely moment in time, the election of Barack Obama as president was just that, a moment. It has become very clear that the moment has passed.
Let's not be satisfied with terms such as "gay tolerance" when if we really tolerated it, there wouldn't have to be catch phrases at all.
Let's not rest until terms like "alien" are no longer associated with our siblings from another part of the same world in which we live.
Politically correct in no way means morally correct. We must be vigilant in remembering that whether for good or bad, our same old will either be our same old, or, we can work together learning from our same old to produce the same newness of life that God promised us so long ago.
Edney is currently working toward ordination in the Southern Conference of the UCC. She received her M.Div. degree from Virginia Union University in Richmond and has a background in counseling, youth services, community outreach and corporate communications.