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New Wine, New Skins

September 13, 2013

Watching the heartbreaking drama in Syria unfold and President Obama’s reaction to the crossing of the “red line”, I can’t help but wonder what happened to the man I worked so hard to get elected. Seriously, Barry, what happened? 2454847837_2150b957ce_o

I know it would be too much to ask to agree with every single decision he makes in office, and I haven’t, but I do wish that on the big issues we could still see eye-to-eye. Although military strikes are looking less likely now that Syria has agreed to Russia’s plan to have them hand over their chemical weapons, the strikes have not been taken off the table.  They are still being threatened if Syria does not act as quickly as the US would like or give assurances that the US would like to hear.

War and aggression only make for more war and more aggression, either immediately or down the road. Barack Obama knows this, I believe, but he is operating within a system that also knows but doesn’t care. Was I naive enough to believe that Barack Obama could change Washington and not the other way around? I think I wanted to be.  If nothing else, his presidency has been a very clear reminder of how little a well-intentioned and completely reasonable person can get done within our current political system. And I’m not sure that Washington has changed him so much as broken him.

There is no shortage of good ideas out there in the world. Brilliant people with good hearts and a deep desire to change what needs to be changed are easy to find. The problem? They get funneled into and through these systems that simply cannot handle them.  Old broken systems, when they are no longer serving the needs of those they are meant to serve, must be dismantled and rebuilt. After a certain point, they cannot be fixed.  As a really smart guy is rumored to have said,  “you don’t pour new wine into old skins”. (Mark 2:22)  The system can’t handle new wine so we need to build one that can.

Next week it will have been two years since protestors first occupied Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan as part of the worldwide Occupy movement. This movement has been a cry for new wine skins from a generation that has seen that our current systems do not serve the majority of the people. Their methods and message has been criticized but one does not need to look very far to see evidence of how right they are. Our financial, political, societal, and religious systems are not creating a fair, just, and peaceful world.

A book was just published last week, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation, written by Dr. Rev.  Matthew Fox and Adam Bucko. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It addresses not only the yearning of the current generation for systems that serve the people rather than people serving the system, but also highlights all the new wine that is out there, just waiting for new wine skins. The world is full of people using their creative energy and intellects in the pursuit of equity and compassion and justice, which  if nothing else, is a great reminder for those of us who can feel so sad and overwhelmed by what we see happening in the world. It also talks about the importance of calling on our elders, the wisdom of the older generation, to guide us forward.

Building new systems, starting over; that too can feel overwhelming. Dr. Rev. Matthew Fox wrote something that I find very comforting in another of his books, Original Blessing. He writes: “… compassion – interdependence – already is the universe. We do not have to make it anew. Compassion, one might say, is a grace and not a work. This is very good news indeed. Our work comes in entering into this truth and then struggling to rebuild or start anew in building human institutions that themselves relate interdependently and encourage interdependent relationships. ”



One Comment leave one →
  1. September 13, 2013 7:17 pm

    Adaś przeczytałem ten artykuł i po moich przemyśleniach zgadzam się z tobą w większości. Pozdrawiam. Marek

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