As we enter 2017, many people are still recovering from the stress and drama of 2016. From a political, social and religious standpoint, 2016 was a year of unexpected and unimaginable turmoil. The year brought us to the edge of a tall cliff.
Equally traumatic and unexpected were the last-minute rescues from disastrous descents into the chasm below. Fortunately, the plunge to ruin was avoided (for now) not only by the unexpected results of the American elections but some good reactions worldwide, in which people brexitted away from global and socialistic “solutions” which they saw as overbearing and catastrophic. The death of Communist icon Fidel Castro added yet another blow to leftist movements everywhere that suffered terrible defeats in 2016.
The situation, however, remains dangerous and tenuous, as instability, uncertainty and chaos are found everywhere. The frenetic intemperance of our frantic lifestyles has upended so many of the anchors and convictions that keep a society well-grounded and balanced. A great confusion exists inside the Church about moral teachings. Society appears to have lost the moral compass that would help us find our way out of the present mess.
And so entering 2017, we have not yet gone off the cliff; rather we have only avoided disaster. We are still precariously perched on the edge of a precipice looking out over a vast and alarming panorama. Choices must now be made to find a way out. Avoiding disaster does not mean the fight is over. It only means a new phase has just begun.
If 2016 was the year of the unexpected, we might well ask what we can “unexpect” for 2017.
If there is a new image that might be used to describe the coming 2017, it might be that of a roller coaster near the precipice. It is admittedly a strange metaphor since roller coasters do not typically appear near cliffs. However, the image somehow fits since it reflects the carnivalesque atmosphere of a political year full of twitterfests, e-mail hacking wars and reality show antics that characterized events both here and abroad.
Thus, we should imagine a giant roller coaster with all sorts of twists, turns and dives that can be extremely dangerous, nerve-racking and dizzying. This particular roller coaster does, however, allow for turns and alternative routes depending on the skills and capacities of those in the cars.
Those who avoided disaster are euphoric because this unexpected roller coaster appeared on the precipice. They have entered the cars and are festively celebrating. Others are frightened and angry at the prospect of leaving what they think is the security of the precipice for the risky route ahead. They enter the cars reluctantly.
As the roller coaster cars start to pull out from their resting place, everyone, festive or angry, on the right or the left, needs to prepare for the first descent. They need to strap themselves in. If not, the cars will become a tangle of highly emotional and irrational people struggling to survive the unexpected twists and turns that will inevitably come.
This is the state of the world today. We are beginning to descend from the precipice for a ride from which we can “unexpect” just about anything to happen. There are political challenges found in an increasingly aggressive China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran from which we expect war, an uneasy peace and anything in-between. Islamic terrorism can and does ruthlessly strike anywhere and in unexpected places—even open-air Christmas markets. There are financial challenges ahead in the form of asset bubbles, massive debt and regulation. There are the moral problems like abortion, assisted suicide, attacks on marriage and sexual identity issues that are promoted everywhere. These leave in their wake a trail of broken marriages and families, shattered lives and relationships, devastated communities and empty churches that turn people’s lives upside down.
How we deal with these challenges will determine the course of the roller coaster ride we can expect in 2017. All we really know now is that it will be full of unnerving twists, turns and dives. We may even crash if not careful. No one can predict what will happen in the face of so many unknowns. However, there is only one way to be prepared for the roller coaster ride. We need to be strapped inside by our principles that will hold us firmly in place and allow us to make the proper judgments to guide the cars away from disaster.
Even with the straps in place, it will not be an easy ride. There will be those inside the cars who think they can leave their principles behind and ride unrestrained. There will even be those who will scoff at the laws of physics and believe that they can do their own thing regardless of gravity and reality. When the unexpected twists and turns happen, such occupants will create havoc inside the car. There needs to be enough heroic people inside the cars who are strapped in by their principles and can step up to the plate and return things back to order.
But these principles cannot be just any principles or values. They cannot be based on emotions or feelings that guide so many people today down the road to disaster. Rather they must be tied to an objective moral law as enshrined in the Ten Commandments. These principles should be embedded in institutions like marriage, the family and private property, without which any return to order is impossible.
The principles must lead us back to God, the Source and Creator of all order. We must have recourse to God if we are to survive the dangerous path down the mountain.
In 2017, we might “unexpect” Divine action. As the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima approaches, it is impossible for Catholics not to think of her Message in 1917. Looking at the past, we saw her maternal warnings about world wars, conflicts, persecutions, and the spreading of the errors of Russia throughout the world have all come to pass. There is no reason to doubt that her remaining predictions for the future will also happen. In the back of many people’s minds is the question of whether this will be the “Fatima year” when further events might occur—and heavenly aid might be supplied.
So much could happen in 2017. The key to survival is fidelity to our Christian principles and confidence in Providence. Indeed, we were brought to the edge of the abyss in the first place because so many abandoned moral principles over the last decades. We have avoided disaster so far, but it would be wrong to think that we will survive the rough roller-coaster ride ahead without a return to moral principles.
As seen on Catholic365.com