Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent: Waiting for Birth... and Death

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, and while many (not all) Christians around the world observe this time (generally between Thanksgiving and Christmas) as a period of waiting for the coming of our Savior, millions around the world are watching the end approaching. That is, they are waiting for death to arrive for some entity that has meant a great deal to their respective countries. In particular, Great Britain, Venezuela, South Africa, and the United States are watching and waiting.

The question I pose is this: Which of these four impending deaths speaks most loudly to your conscience? I have ranked them in the order that they have meaning for me -- in terms of reflecting on what this means in the proverbial "grand scheme of things."

The Duchess of Cambridge visits Tuvanipupu Island on their Diamond Jubilee tour of the Far East in Honiara, Guadalcanal Island
Duchess Kate Middleton
(1) Duchess Kate and her deteriorating condition. Ever since it was announced earlier this week that the "Royal Couple" is expecting a baby, the paparazzi and media in general have gone into a frenzy. She was in the hospital for several days, then went home. And now it appears her condition has worsened. It seems a given that she will lose this baby and that all the British subjects will mourn. Indeed, the loss of every child's life is a sad occasion, especially when it is "a choice" by the mother to end the life. Clearly Kate has not chosen termination, but death does happen even without a mother choosing it. So, as sad as this will be if the child does not make it full term, at the risk of sounding callous, it will not affect my grand scheme nor, I daresay, the world's.I just wish the world for mourn for EVERY child that dies before having a chance to live outside the womb.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Minister Nicolas Maduro
Chavez appoints Veep as successor
(2) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appoints his successor before heading back to Cuba for pointless treatment of his cancer. Chavez has been dictator of the South American country for twelve years. He won re-election in October in a contest that many think was rigged against a much younger, more handsome, and charismatic candidate. Apparently Chavez has had a reality check and is admitting that he is not immortal. Or perhaps it's just that he was pressured by the legislature to make alternative plans just in case. In this case, I am betting that the just-in-case becomes THE case. Chavez will kick the bucket before his January third-term inauguration. And that will be a good thing for freedom-lovers around the world. Whether it is a good thing for the people of Venezuela remains to be seen. Since Chavez appointed his successor, it may be more of he same old same old.

Nelson Mandela
(3) Nelson Mandela, affectionately known to the people of South Africa as Madiba, is approaching the end. Mandela is 94 years old. Fifty years ago his chances of reaching age 50 were almost nil. A very dear friend of mine lived through the turmoil of 1980s-90s in South Africa when the white ruling class finally ceded power to the majority black native Africans. My friend showed me how important Mandela is, not just to the South African people, but to anyone who believes that no group of people should ever enslave others. I read Mandela's autobiography about 8 years ago, and I can say without a doubt that the mourning that will resound around the world when Madiba passes to his maker will be loud, sincere, and memorable in itself. I will join them in remembering a great man who, despite his short-comings, is one of a handful of men who have made a positive lasting mark on the history of modern civilization.

A farmer in rural America
(4) Rural America is dying. The head of the United States Department of Agriculture told farmers this week that they are becoming irrelevant. With the loss to Obama in November, conservatives who make up the vast majority of the agricultural industry are being told that they have to change and start thinking like city-dwellers. Vilsack was addressing the declining population of rural states and the decrease in interest in farming that is being shown by young people raised in farm states. If America cannot produce her own food, she will have to turn to other countries to feed her people. Or she will have to import people to do the jobs that no one here wants to do. This latter phenomenon has already been taking shape for the last four decades as immigrants come in to do jobs that farm owners say Americans do not want to do. For me, this death would be the most tragic and the most destructive if it came to pass. I come from a family of farmers. Several of my brothers still have their hands in the occupation, tangentially at best since it is hard to make a living at it these days. So when I see the decline in this honorable way of life, a part of me dies along with it. My prayer is that men and women who love this way of life will find a way to instill in the younger generation the importance of maintaining it. It is too important to let it die....


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