Sometimes one doesn't know what to write about.
Consider: The Washington budget battles continue. The president seems to "reach out" to Republicans on one hand but makes a series of extremely controversial Cabinet nominations on the other. Mr. Obama makes his first presidential visit to Israel with plans to honor the grave of its major founder, but critics fear he has ulterior motives.
The Obama administration announces it will put women into the infantry, and few congressmen object - but intelligent critics, noting the obvious fact that there really are some physical and emotional differences between men and women, worry about the consequences. Likewise, the debate over homosexual "marriage" almost completely ignores the ideal of the complementarity of men and women (which, of course, implies differences that merit complementing), because everything seems to be not about logic (much less morality) but about feelings.
Big cases relating to homosexuality, racial differences, and voting rights await decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, while lower courts in Alabama, Missouri and elsewhere consider state laws on religious liberty and school choice. And the direct battle against the so-called HHS mandate that tramples religious liberty continues to be fought in dozens of federal courts across the land. (The practical questions about the rest of the president's health care law also continue to emerge, but that's yet another story.)
Financial troubles plague Europe; chemical weapons reportedly are used in Syria; North Korea claims to be abrogating its 60-year truce with South Korea while threatening to drop a nuke on the United States; and, as always, "war and rumors of war" continue to bubble up in remote spots all over the globe.
And speaking of battles, of course, immigration and gun control seem to cause perennial fights in Washington, D.C., and in state capitals across the country.
As the poet William Wordsworth put it, in a sonnet bemoaning materialism and modern mores, perhaps "the world is too much with us, late and soon". The poem's next line is appropriate, too: "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers."
There are plenty of good reasons, of course, to continue to engage in the world, rather than withdraw. (In fact, I don't think the appropriately named Wordsworth was advocating withdrawal, but instead was lamenting the lack of a "romantic" or spiritual sense in the materialism and industrialization of the world.) But the constant turmoil, the sometimes nasty conflicts, the worrisome trends, all combine to make a person pine for retreat, for simplicity, and for release. It surely is tempting to let the rest of the world go to its own doom while we try to maintain individual sanity in just our little part of it.
Yet that is not our mission, either as citizens or as people of faith. Not to sound too much like a preacher, but the risen Jesus told us not to cloister ourselves, but to "go and make disciples of all nations." And while this "great commission" was about saving souls rather than saving the temporal Earth, the entirety of Christ's preaching was one of participating fully, and of wrestling mightily against those things that despoil the world God gave us. While this is certainly not a primarily political commission (and perhaps not political at all), it is, without a doubt, a commission to direct earthly ministry rather than to some sort of religiously inspired separatism. Our job is to love God's world as He loves us. That, in turn, requires that we work in every way we can to make it better - not because we believe we can create an earthly Utopia, but because by improving the state of affairs on Earth, even a little bit, we do honor to God's creation.
Yet - and this is where I come full circle to my first sentence - in order to do so, we need to start somewhere. We can't do everything at once; we must tackle anything we do in bites we can actually handle. In short, we need to choose. Sometimes that's the hardest step of all: choosing where to start. And that is exactly what I was having trouble doing at the beginning of this column: choosing which topic, among so many, merits the most immediate attention.
So many problems, so little time. The world is too much with us. We know, however, that if we don't get started by tackling at least one task at a time, the tasks, and problems, will pile up even more urgently. The problems and controversies right now, as indicated above, seem daunting. But even if sometimes a person doesn't know what to write, we must choose something, so that those of us who value liberty, order and age-old truths can begin to win some of the battles.
About The Contributor
Quin Hillyer is a Senior Fellow for The Center for Individual Freedom, a Senior Editor for the American Spectator magazine, and a Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mobile. He has won mainstream awards for journalistic excellence at the local, state, regional and national levels. He has been published professionally in well over 50 publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle, Investors Business Daily, National Review, the Weekly Standard, Human Events, and The New Republic Online. He is a former editorial writer and columnist for the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, the Mobile Register, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and a former Managing Editor of Gambit Weekly in New Orleans. He has appeared dozens of times as a television analyst in Washington DC, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and as a guest many hundreds of times on national and local radio shows.
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