If you ignore the fact that I’ve been out of the dating scene since I was seventeen, have never had a one night stand, and am married to—and have two kids with—my high school sweetheart, I’m kind of the Barney Stinson of the crew here at TTAF. Yes, I’m the one who wears the slim-fit suit everyday to work at an incredibly large financial services firm, am socially awkward in most gatherings, find that the best way to unwind each night is with a nice single malt in hand, and am always up for accepting a good challenge.
While most of these challenges are trivial at best and absolutely ridiculous at worst, one thing in particular has been continually brought to the forefront of my thoughts over the past few months. One constant theme that, although I gave it only cursory attention at first, has become a challenge too large—and too serious—for me to ignore. It’s magnitude, of course, might be why it was so pervasive in my thoughts, reaching me not only through pop culture, but through research reports, and through my faith. The challenge is simply this: Make the world the way you want it to be.
Let me share just a bit of my thought process. A few weeks ago I was sitting at work reading an article put out by Deutsche Post DHL exploring five hypothetical scenarios of what the world might look like in the year 2050 given the current state of the world economy and political scene, and the direction each is heading. (I work for a very large financial services firm; this is what we do in our free time.) What they thought the world might look like is of no importance for us here, but what struck me was a line at the end of a short video that went with their research. As an actor made his best effort to look inquisitively into the distance, he closed a book entitled “Delivering Tomorrow” (DHL is, after all, a logistics shipping company) and the narrator ended by delivering the line, “Different scenarios, diverging perspectives, let us weigh our options and shape the future with today’s decisions.” While this shouldn’t have demanded much of my attention, for some reason it did. You see, up to that point I had been looking at the scenarios offered and thinking over and over, “I wonder if we’ll end up like that.” I wonder if those around me, those in power, those with influence, those with money, those who decide things like the political climate or world economy . . . if those people will lead our world to this destination. I wonder. But then the video leaves me with a challenge: let us weigh our options and shape the future.
Around the same time, I was having a hard time escaping the popular Coldplay song, Paradise. No seriously, I couldn’t escape it; it was playing all the time, which was fine because I kind of liked it, but the more I listened to it the more it made me sad. If you’re not familiar with it, it tells the story of a girl who, as a child, viewed the world the way all children do—as a wonderful place full of endless opportunity—but who whose dreams were all too quickly crushed as the reality and the weight of the world set in around her. So she runs away in her sleep to dream of para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise. Then there’s this line:
So lying underneath the stormy skies, She said (oh-oh-oh-oh-oh), I know the sun’s set to rise.
This could be paradise.
Again, the song shouldn’t have demanded the amount of attention it did, but for some reason it made the issue personal to me. You see, I have a daughter; I have a tiny little girl who expects the world, who dreams in bright colors and tells crazy stories and paints outside the lines and likes to wear her mother’s high heels and dress like a princess and likes to be called my princess and wants to live in a castle some day.
And I want that to last as long as possible.
And the challenge for me became this: how do I make this life, her life, one in which we can freely dream, freely pursue, and freely explore? How do I encourage her to reach for her dreams, no matter how colorful and wild they are, with reckless abandon and with all the passion I desire for her to posses? And how can I do so while, instead of making the world the place I wish it to be, I’m muddling through life watching How I Met Your Mother re-runs?
Lastly, and again around the same time, the challenge became complete when it became a matter of my faith. As we may have said on here before, The Thing About Flying is not a Christian site. It is not written specifically for Christians, but we here at TTAF are Christians and from time to time we may talk about how that worldview affects our thinking on the matter at hand. If you’re not so concerned about it, I hope the discussion above is enough to challenge you as it stands. But if you’re interested, this challenge was solidified for me as I read the book, Simply Christian, by N. T. Wright (which, by the way, you should read, period).
We don’t have time to go into the details of Wright’s arguments in this post, but suffice it to say the book explores the way the Christian story—and not just the abbreviated version that says “we’re sinners, but Jesus died, so now we can go to heaven,” but the entire narrative of the history of the Jewish people that comes to a climax in the life, death and resurrection, of Jesus—speaks to the current state of affairs in the word is today and the way in which this fallen world is being put to rights through . . . us. Let me share a quote: “The Bible is there to enable God’s people to be equipped to do God’s work in God’s world, not to give them an excuse to sit back smugly knowing they possess all God’s truth” (184). Our purpose, according to Wright, is “to make God’s new creation happen in this world, not simply to find [our] own way unscathed through the old creation” (183).
This website started because a few guys in their mid twenties were discontent with the way there lives were playing out. Because at twenty-seven, our lives weren’t looking the way we would have described them at seventeen and we were just trying to figure out what in the world we should be doing. It exists to walk alongside other men as we all do our best to figure out this thing we call life. So as we do that, this is my challenge. Hopefully it’s our challenge.
Make this world the way we wish it to be, the way it should be, the way it was designed to be.
I’ve got to say I was incredibly encouraged by the comments by FakeTravisWhalen to the post on our nation’s GDP yesterday. He wrote: “I read what makes our country bad and then I read what could make it great and I realized that the defining factor is me. If I am a good man who leads a good family and does good work than the world around me is better.”
In what way do you think the world around you can be bettered? More importantly, what role will you play in making this change? Let us know in the comments below.