Here’s my dilemma. I care about this city, Seattle, and what happens to it over the next twenty years. But I feel like we spend more time talking, clearing our throats, and adjusting our clothes in the mirror, rather than doing anything.
I don’t say that because I’m worried about the future of my children (don’t have any) or because I worry about Seattle disappearing into the ocean because of climate change.
I care because this is where I live an it’s where I’ll probably live until my living is done. Selfish? I suppose, but it’s not any more self referential than any other reason.
I want good things to happen here because we make them happen, together, as a community. Seattle has become (and of course I’m generalizing) or always has been a “no, I’m just fine. Thanks!” kind of town. Things happen to us here, and we talk about them as if we are out of body. “What should we do about climate change?” we earnestly ask, as if we were asking about someone else. Our behavior often reminds me of a certain ship and some deck chairs. “Wow. An iceberg. What will those poor bastards do now?”
But the thing is, climate change, population growth, a broken government, and rapid economic change are happening to us, not some actors in a movie. We actually can make a difference in how things work around here and we can do it soon.
It’s Lent now, so maybe I’m more reflective these days. But I can’t help feeling like Jonah, another character in a story involving sinking ships.
After he finally, against his will, helps save the people of Nineveh from punishment from some unspecified sin, he sulks.
“I’m so angry I wish I were dead,” Jonah says. A feeling I sometimes have when people tell me that as soon as we’re done amending the Comp Plan we’ll focus on big changes to land use.
While Jonah is feeling sorry for himself God provides him shelter under a tree. But then he makes the tree wither, exposing Jonah to the hot sun. Again Jonah complains. God takes advantage of the teachable moment.
But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
So Seattle, there may be times I’d just as soon have God pour his wrath on us, forcing us to make some tough decisions now, rather than spending our time talking about what might happen or could happen. Or worse, making incremental adjustments in the face of a crying need for big change. But apparently God loves you and your back yard chickens and goats, and somehow we’ll figure all this out.
And by the way, instead of going to your next deck chair task force meeting, I’ll tell you now. I think that chair should go over there, not where you’ve got it. Just sayin.’