We all have…problems. And there’s a real good chance that we have a lot of…problems. Life comes with problems. It’s part of the deal. It’s a natural part of this thing that we’re all doing called life. Life comes with problems. But the real problem is not that life comes with problems. The real problem is what we do with them.
The Problem is Not the Problem
In the majority of cases, the problem is ‘not’ the problem…despite the fact that we think it’s the problem. The problem is how we’re choosing to deal with the problem. That’s the problem. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in most cases the problem actually creates less problems than the way that we’ve chosen to deal with the problem. The ‘real’ problem is that we don’t want to deal with the ‘real’ problem. And all we have to do is look around at our culture today to realize that we have cultivated, and refined, and ingeniously perfected a whole bunch of ways to do that.
Side-Stepping the Problems
We want to immediately minimize the problem out of our frantic efforts to wave off the gravity of it at any cost in order to salvage our self-image. Or we want to blame others for it so that we are magically free of any culpability from the problem that we (through our geed or stupidity or arrogance) created. We want to devise clever narratives to excuse whatever we did that created the problem so as to hand ourselves a free pass and by-pass accountability for the carnage we caused. We want to see the problem as arising from circumstances beyond our control, leaving us utterly innocent, squeaky clean, and nothing more than the wounded victim of the choices that we refuse to own.
Or, we have come to determine that the problem is marvelously self-serving, and that it grants us some sort of cherished leverage that we would lose should we actually solve the problem. Therefore, we perpetuate the problem, turning a blind-eye toward those who are suffering because of the problem. Or, most deviously of all, we spin the problem to be the brain-child of some ill-defined, but dark and foreboding force intent on our destruction. And these people, or these organizations, or these clandestine groups clustered in some darkened room, or whatever they might be become enemy that they never were, and we become the victim that it is, in fact, the victimizer. The real problem is rarely the real problem.
Falling Prey to Our Lesser Selves
But when we fall prey to our lesser selves and enslave ourselves to the fear of accountability, or risk tarnishing our cherished reputations by being exposed as the culprits. Or when have to expend cherished resources to clean up the mess we made when we would much prefer to hoard those resources for ourselves. Or when we seize the opportunity to turn our failures on others in order to elevate ourselves above them in some sickening power grab. Or when we choose whatever gain the problem might grant us over the destruction it will wield in the lives of others…when we do any of these, we are creating a problem far bigger than whatever the real problem was. Far bigger. And we would be utterly foolish to think that these choices will not come back to haunt us with an unparalleled vengeance that we cannot begin to imagine. Yes…the real problem is rarely the real problem.
Courage to Refuse Cowardice
It takes courage to step up and own what we have done. It is the brave individual who will refuse to elevate themselves at the expense of others. It is the person of integrity who will unflinchingly stare into the mirror of their decisions and own what they see staring back at them. It is the man or woman of wisdom who will recognize that to embrace the consequences of our choices, and to own the outcome of our behaviors is the single path to freedom, and that any other path will always, always, lead to enslavement. And it is the person of faith will understands that God can only forgive that which we repent of, and that there is nothing so large that He cannot, and will not, forgive. God is in the business of wiping slates clean and handing out new starts.
Yes…the real problem is rarely the real problem. And if we are to begin the process of wiping out the problems in our world, we must wipe out the way that we have chosen to deal with them. We must…
“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness…”.
- 1 Corinthians 3:18-19