I have been thinking about this post for a couple of days now. The subject is trust. Who do we trust in our lives? We can look at our world as concentric circles. As we look at the world-at-large, and the world stage, who do we trust? World leaders? The U.N.? Our President? Our elected officials? The worldwide media? What news source do you listen to? Because where and how, and from whom, you get your information colors that information, and it colors you. There is a quote from Winston Churchill that says, “History is written by the victors.” And that is pretty much true. This is our largest circle. The world. Certainly our faith and sense of self comes from an influence by the world on us, even if we eschew interacting with it most of the time – that act in itself is a reaction to the world around us, thus has an influence. And are we aware of what is going on in this circle? Because if we are not, we are “in for a world of hurt” when it all comes crashing down.
As we come closer, and enter the next smallest circle, we come to our country. So who do we trust? Again, our President, elected officials, government? I have been sorely disappointed in all of it. I made assumptions people had our best interests at heart. I made assumptions people would act in a way that put our country and its citizens first. And I trusted those in charge. Silly me. I still believed in character and ethics. That has been debunked. Thoroughly. Another quote, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton) sort of sums up large-circle (and really, all) politics. There is rampant corruption in our government. It is on the news daily, regardless which camp you identify yourself as part of. Who speaks truth? Who champions our country before their own interest? Who puts America first, regardless of special interests or lobbyists? Who cares about the citizens, each and every one of them? Who, on the national stage, can we trust? I loved watching the interview of Mark Zuckerberg, live, answering questions by equally shady politicians. What a circus that was! Please. The FBI/CIA/IRS and the host of other alphabet agencies? LOL. Nope. Don’t trust any of them. Do you trust Facebook? The abilities of electronic media to follow us and record our movements, purchases, phone calls, friendships…that is frightening and we all need to rethink technology’s roles in our lives (as I type this on a laptop and post it on the internet. Ironic!). People commonly say that if you use any sort of electronic anything, any thoughts of privacy are gone. You have to still be using solely pencil and paper to avoid electronic tracking of some sort. Who even writes checks any longer? ATM cards – debit cards – credit cards. I rarely even touch cash anymore. And those cards can track you while they are still in your wallet/purse, without even making a purchase (RFID chips/technology). And at the bank yesterday, I overheard a man asking how he could have overlooked $8,000 leaving his account. He was standing there, going over all his automatic, electronic deductions. Hard to trust even those you have given access to your bank accounts. Privacy…almost a thing of the past. And now with Siri, or whatever home-control device you have, even our homes are no longer private oases for us to relax inside, eschewing the world. You can tell your TV what you want to watch by saying a line from a movie, or describing into your remote control and it finds the movie/program for you. From voice recognition. My 4-year-old granddaughter tells her Echo device from Amazon to be quiet all the time, shutting down music being played or programs being watched. How scary is that??? And she knows what she is doing.
As we come ever closer to ourselves, we inhabit a finite space and time. As we move closer in from the borders of our country, we come to our State (which is how we divide the country, here in the USA). We happen to live in the “Last Frontier.” Even though Alaska is geographically the largest of the 50 states in this fragile union, we have one of the smallest populations. This state is not for everyone. Weather is certainly a factor (“I could never live in so much cold; so much darkness” is something I am always hearing) as is the fact that we are isolated from the rest of the “lower 48,” as we fondly refer to them. It costs me more to fly to Los Angeles than it does to Reykjavik, Iceland. ($1400 RT to LA versus $1080 RT to Reykjavik, as of this morning). We are isolated in our food sources. We are isolated in goods and materials. We are isolated, except when tourists arrive. LOL. Only 30% of our roads are even paved. It is a harder place to live than most. I have lived in California, and in Washington State, and neither one had the neighborliness of Alaska. And when it comes to politics, the politicians here shop at the same grocery stores, and live in my neighborhood. I can see a politician at Church, deeply in prayer, surrounded by their family. I have met and had coffee with many of them. How many state politicians do you know who, when meeting you, give you their personal cell numbers and ask you to please keep in touch? I was floored when that happened to me – more than once! And now that I do know many State-level politicians, it has made my State seem smaller. I can watch them on TV and text them at the same time. Surreal, in comparison to past experiences with politicians in smaller states with larger populations. And I have friends in local politics, as well. Here we have Boroughs; some states have Counties. We have friends at the Borough and city level in political positions. To me, it seems as if there is a true sense of trying to work to make our State, and our community, a better place. Are there corrupt politicians here? You bet there are. I am slowly learning who is trustworthy, and who is just positioning themselves for re-election and a firm hold on their power base. I pray for all of them.
And in these circles of our lives, quite often things inter-connect and cross-over, creating a patchwork life experience. Some of these people I know who are a part of my State legislature, or a part of my community, are also my friends…which for me, often equate to family and home, my smallest circle. That small and special circle is getting closer and closer to who I am. In my inner circle of family and home, I also have those whom I can trust and those I keep more at arm’s length. People are people, even if they happen to be related to you. (And sometimes it is wiser to keep them further from you…maybe into that circle that contains the country! LOL!) Those close to you influence who you are, and how you react to the stimulation in your life. We modify our lives based on reaction and influence. Sometimes I have walked away from relationships that had become very intense and very close, because it was not healthy for me. They were altering my world view and it was not good. My family is precious to me and I guard those relationships with the attitude of a mother bear – no one gets between me and mine! And if I can help it, no one hurts the people I love and hold dear.
And we arrive at the inner circle. In that circle I have my husband, kids, and grandkids. I also have my mom, because she lives with us. I count a very select few friends as part of this inner circle. Those I call when good happens, but also during those times in life that are painful, and I know they are there for me. (As I am for them). And of those people, family and close friends, can I trust them all? Sometimes I question choices and decisions loved ones make. Sometimes I wonder what influences are in their lives that make them choose what they do. Because if my friends and community can influence me and my perception of the world, it will most definitely affect my children. And they are married, so their wives are also a part of my family (as are their wives’ families). My husband is the primary person in my life, as are the spouses of my sons for their lives. I also claim my daughters-in-law as my own children, so they are part of my circle. My extended family is peopled with relatives I rarely see and to be honest, most of the time, it is fine with me. There are dear friends I miss much more than some of my relatives! LOL! If we are honest, we all have family members we do better with just occasionally visiting.
And finally I am at my innermost self. All these layers, all these circles, come down to me. In Orthodoxy, there is a place where God resides, and we call it the “nous.” It is where our common sense resides, where our intellect resides, but also where we encounter God in ourselves. It is where the Holy Spirit lives within us. I love that description of our innermost selves. And can I trust myself, with myself, to make the right decisions, select the right path, interact in an “orthodox” (as in “right thinking”) way? If I am healthy, yes I can. If I am unhealthy, either spiritually or physically, it changes absolutely everything. Because if our core, our innermost self, is sick in any way, it affects all those circles we have journeyed through to be here. Like ripples in a pond. And if we cannot trust ourselves, because we are not right with God, or our health and minds are not their best, how can we trust anyone else? What does this mean?
To me, this means I am responsible. I am responsible for me and how I affect each of these circles, because even I can create a ripple effect, one that has world-wide (if you follow my logic) effects. And if I operate from a sick perspective, because my faith is askew or non-existent, or my health has been affected, or my morals or character are not formed well, then the ripples I cause to go out from me, well, they are sick and ill-formed, too. In my family I can be calmer or at ease when I am off, or out of sync, because they know and love me regardless of my soul’s state, or the fact that I am ill. In caregiving, especially with Alzheimer’s, we love our family member regardless, and in spite of, this ugly disease. And we try to control the ripples they put out into the world, by helping them in their daily life, and the interactions they have. And we have to guard ourselves against their “warped” affects on us, so we don’t perpetuate the illness out into the world at large. Sounds weird, I know. But if you think about this, it is so true. So when we look at each of these circles in our lives, and we think about each person in each circle having their own set of circles, the ripples they are putting out and what affects that has on the rest of the world, we can envision total chaos…the crazy waves of everyone’s affects on everyone else. And we wonder why our world is in such chaos! Well, what does it mean, to you? To me? To us?
“But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15). It all comes down to being centered in what matters, and then reaching out. For me, if I am sick, I try not to go out into the world and spread it, like germs! LOL! And my sickness can be emotional and spiritual, as well as physical. Our world is messed up because people, in my opinion, are askew in their nous, their center, and they are making a mess of this world. I am not in the best shape. My spirituality is dented and banged up; I have a cold and am sick. I am in no position to cause ripples anywhere. (Which is why I am cocooning at home). And I acknowledge it and am working on it. But if we look at the news, even on mainstream TV, the majority of it revolves around moral issues – people sleeping around on their spouses; others cheating businesses or the government; people shooting people; stealing, robbing, killing. It is enough to make you want to bury your head under the covers and not get out of bed. And seriously, how are we going to get out of this? Most Protestants I know believe we are in the “end times.” They are patiently, and excitedly, waiting for Christ to come again and claim this world for Himself. I keep thinking we need to center ourselves, get right with God and get our bodies under control and in better overall health, and those positive ripples we put out from ourselves will move out, further and further, until we affect this crazy world. And it may even calm this storm. Whew. Enough pondering and musing for this sick mamma. I need a cup of tea. My head hurts. I hope you survived my “verbal vomiting” and perhaps, over-thinking, this entire idea of concentric circles. Here’s to better health and calmer circles….tea, where is my tea?