March 3, 2014
“What's in your rearview mirror?”
For most of my adult life – from Richard Nixon to now – Americans have lived with a growing sense of best-days-coming-soon, no matter the current metrics. In 1972, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit the amazing high of 1,000; in the next 35 years – the generational game time for Baby Boomers – it climbed over 14,000… before it was attacked and left for dead by a Bear called the (not so) Great Recession.
Stock markets may recover… but the people impacted by significant resets do not rebound as readily. For the last 75 months, people who were accustomed to looking over the hood into their positive horizon changed their paradigm. The unexpected chaos of this prolonged season now has them focused on their past – through the virtual rearview mirror – and trying to make sense of the picture.
When bad things happen to good people, what's going on? Where's God, anyway?
Mediocre business results. Deflated investment portfolios. Betrayal in relationships founded on mutual benefit, but split by competing interests. Abandoned dreams. The sad pictures of the recent past aren't framed on mantles, but their images still haunt the people who are in the foreground.
When you see calamity in your past – and self-induced consequences cannot explain the origin – there are only two ways to view it: you're either looking at trauma, or drama. We all wear lenses through which we view circumstances; what we see becomes our reality. When you're blindsided by destruction, which perspective is yours?
Trauma is the choice of most; and, when trauma is the caption, “victim” is the only role you can play. If unfair catastrophe comes to visit, victims react defensively… and begin to seek someone to whom they can report their travail. Wanted: someone to listen, and care…
There's a problem: victims tend to find only other victims, none of whom wants to hear and care. When everyone has a tale of inequitable experience to share… everyone stops listening, and they become – individually – bitter victims who have issues with God's fairness.
Same conditions, through another lens: instead of trauma, the story is drama. Not comedy: that makes you laugh, and features an ensemble cast. Dramas can be cliffhangers, with the story made of loose ends and unresolvable pieces until the hero is revealed. Every drama has a hero; but, often, it takes awhile for the champion to emerge.
Joseph gets more column inches in Genesis than Abraham, Isaac or Jacob. He is on-the-rise as the son with the bright future until his 10 older brothers pull the rug out from under him and he begins his 13 year journey through the hinterlands of Hell.
Sold as a slave. Framed as a rapist. Used as an unpaid servant by a lazy warden. Betrayed by the promise of Pharaoh's baker and cupbearer. For over a decade – half of his conscious life – he was at risk of sending for his Victims Anonymous membership card.
“But God was with Joseph…” was a recurring retrospective account. Used – finally – to rescue both Egypt and his own family from famine and destruction, he had the power to obtain justice regarding his evil brothers. What would he do… when he could do anything?
“But Joseph said to them, ‘Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.' And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:19-21)
Bad stuff; great perspective. It's all in how you look at it: if God's involved, all of life is drama. Without him, trauma is the only option. Are you a victim? Or, the hero who will soon be revealed?