Daily Archives: March 19, 2010

Necessity and Reality…Lessons on Life

“One’s task is not to turn the world upside down, but to do what is necessary at the given place and with a due consideration of reality.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“A mans got to know his limitations” Harry Callahan

Tonight will be busy and fun for me as I get to go to our Medical Center Intern Class Dining Out.  The Dining out is a traditional Military occasion where the Officers of the Mess and their guests are together for a time of ceremony, camaraderie and good times.  Last year I attended this and if you want to know more you can go to the following article: The Dining Out

In light of that my post will be short. Coming back from surgery and being out of action for nearly a month I want to jump into everything.  However jumping into everything simply because I feel better and fitter than I have in probably two years does not mean that everything that I think that I can do be it vocational, spiritual or physical. Instead I am learning to work within my own limitations to be the best at what I do without over committing and end up having some kind of crash be it related to PTSD or physical issues.  It is something that I am learning to do and it is not always easy because I want to make a big impact.

However as both Bonhoeffer and Callahan (Clint Eastwood-Dirty Harry) remind us not everything is my job and that in order to be effective I and probably most of us need “to do what is necessary at the given place and with a due consideration of reality.” In other words be at the right place at the right time doing the mission that we are called to do with a sense of the reality of the situation, both our own as well as the situation in life that we find ourselves.

A lot of people now want to gain instant fame without the hard work that traditionally is required. Thus the massive number of “reality” shows where the only requirement is to act like an idiot and do things that you should be ashamed of doing, that profit nothing and while they give a person a brief amount of “fame” or notoriety which is seldom remembered by anyone unless it was incredibly stupid.

Workaholics like me want to do everything and fall into the temptation and trap of committing ourselves and sometimes our organizations to things that ultimately even if we can do them well are bad in the long term.  Such things can divert us from what we really need to be doing into ventures which may be exciting but divert us from what is truly necessary and possible.

This is frequently seen in the ranks of the over-achievers who want to “change the world.” This can take on all sorts of faces, political, educational, religious or scientific but the effect is often the same.  “World changers” sometimes become unrestrained zealots. In the quest to fulfill the agenda push so hard that they lose sight of the world around them and sometimes become willing like Chuck Colson when he worked for President Nixon “run over their own grandmother” to see the agenda fulfilled. This happens in business, politics, foreign affairs, science and even religion.  The desire to “change the world” often becomes a trap ready to ensnare even the most sincere person.  Trapped in the emotion of the “vision” those who lose sight of what is necessary and what is reality sometimes stop at nothing to see it fulfilled even if others are hurt in the process.

This is also seen in military history where the commander of an army or fleet makes a decision, usually rash and made in the passion of the moment to commit to something that while it looks to be beneficial leads to their defeat.  Military history is replete with examples.  Somehow the leader overestimates his own capabilities or underestimates those of his opponent with the end result of disaster.

Organizations including businesses and churches are frequently their own worst enemy when it comes to things like this.  Individuals who become obsessed can become like Don Quixote and run off  attacking windmills.  Christians often fall for this thinking that only they can win the salvation of the world or have a “new” message, teaching or “word” for the Church and world and end up broken, disillusioned and wondering if God let them down when they simply followed their own devices thinking that it was God.   Organizations can cause their own downfall as was seen in the banking crisis where business whose names were associated with thrift, trust and honesty destroyed themselves, injured their employees, stockholders and customers and cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars. Custer charged into the Little Big Horn and Hitler attacked the Soviet Union.  Great success stories huh? Anyway, that being said I must close for the night.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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