Is it possible that in his State of the Union message, U.S. President Barack Obama missed mentioning something really important? Like, perhaps, the cause of all our difficulties? (Not just in the United States, but around the world?)
Even a casual observer can see that not a single one of the systems, institutions and devices that humanity has put into place to create a better life for all is functioning in a way that has generated this outcome.
It's worse than that. They've actually generated exactly the opposite.
Our political systems -- created to produce safety and security for the world's people -- have generated widespread disagreement and disarray.
Our economic systems -- created to produce opportunity and sufficiency for all -- have generated increasing poverty and massive economic inequality, with 85 of the world's richest people holding more wealth than 3.5 billion...that's half the planet's population combined.
Our ecological systems -- created to help us produce a sustainable lifestyle -- have been abused to the point where they have generated environmental disasters right and left.
Our educational systems -- created to lift higher and higher the knowledge base of the planet's population -- have generated such a drop in global awareness and sensitivity that each year our intellectual common denominator seems to sink lower and lower. We can't even remember our own telephone numbers anymore, or how to spell equanimity, much less produce it.
Our health care systems -- created in hopes of producing a good and long life for an increasingly higher percentage of people worldwide -- have done little to eliminate global inequality of access to modern medicines and health care services, thus providing the highest level medical services each year to an insufficient and unsatisfactory percentage of the global population.
Our social systems -- created to produce the joy of community and harmony among a divergent population --have generated (and in some cases even encouraged) discordance, disparity, prejudice, and despair.
And, most sadly dysfunctional of all, our spiritual systems -- created to produce a greater closeness to God, and so, to each other -- have generated bitter righteousness, shocking intolerance, widespread anger, deep-seated hatred, and self-justified violence.
What gives here? What's going on with the human race that it cannot see itself even as it looks at itself? Where is humanity's blind spot?
Might it be time to ask: "Could there be something we don't fully understand here about God and about Life, the understanding of which would change everything?"
Yes, I've mentioned God here because, in my opinion, unless we change our minds about God --- about who God is and what God wants and who we are in relationship to God and to each other --- none of the problems that Mr. Obama mentioned in his January speech are going to be solved. They may perhaps --- perhaps --- be given a band-aid, but they will continue to plague humankind as they have for lo, these many years.
For a country that declares itself to be "one nation, under God," the leaders in Washington, and local political leaders across the land are doing a remarkable job of ignoring the topic of God when considering how to meet our collective challenges. They appear to be trying to solve our problems at every level except the level at which those problems exist.
The problems facing us are not political problems, and they are not economic problems, and they are surely not military problems. The problems facing us are spiritual problems. They have to do with what we believe about ourselves, about our world, and about God. And I'll have more on this in my next posting here. I invite you to stay tuned.