She bent down and took my plate. “Thank you,” I said, smiling. She met my eyes and did not smile back. How she must hate me, hate us all, I thought, leaning back in my plush chair, watching the light of the chandelier glint off the wall. She must loathe us. Posturing privileged white people talking a mix of money and theoretical nonsense. I felt guilty sitting there. As I watched her walk back to the kitchen with my plate, I wanted to escape that room and find some way to make it right. (I thought we were past the era where one race of people serves another. Guess not.) But I don’t know how. Profound guilt and the inability to express it or escape it.
So I’ve been frustrated lately. Not just by this sense of pervasive social injustice, but also at the terrible devasation of sexual violence (thoughts resurrected by the AIDS talk last Thursday and watching "The Kite Runner"). Traces of God’s mercy on earth have been hard for me to find. Listening to the Lord’s Prayer last night at Compline, I had a hard time believing that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Sure, it’s done in heaven, while He’s up there chilling with the seraphim, but what about all of us down here? What about this deeply screwed up world? And where do I fall?
"How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, 'Violence!'
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me:
there is strife, and conflict abounds."
- Habakkuk 1:2, 3
Skipping unrelated stones:
This morning in news writing we had another journalist come to speak to us about our soon-to-be obsolete careers. Two thoughts: what this woman, an editor at The Washington Post, said about her job made me excited and tremendously eager to start my life as a reporter and then eventually follow that to grow up into a book critic. But then she said, “No one wants to read anymore. People don’t sit down and read the paper these days. Soon The Washington Post will be just a Web site.” My blood ran cold. Particularly because I realized she was right. I am going into a dying industry—the business of word-making. Paper subscriptions are dwindling, YouTube is booming. Is there no one left of our breed? Of pen and paper readers? Whom will I review books for if no one is reading books at all?
Essentially, it all boils down to these tenets:
1. I have no skills and the skills I am developing (writing, reporting) will be useless in a matter of years.
2. Americans are stupid and growing stupider by the day because they don’t read.
3. I am powerless to stop this trend.
4. (And am I grossly hypocritical for posting this on The Internets? Yes.)
And here we come to the farthest reaches of my mind today.
How long until this is true? Will it ever be true here?
Justice will dwell in the desert
And righteousness live in the fertile field.
The fruit of righteousness will be peace;
The effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
In secure homes,
In undisturbed places of rest.
- Isaiah 32:16-18