From the Pastor

“Enough” Problems.

We have “enough” problems as a society right now, but I don’t mean that in the way that you probably think I do.

I’m not talking about the number of problems, as in “enough, can’t take any more.” Oh we might have that too, but my mind is wandering elsewhere today.

We have problems that too often seem to stem from our inability to determine what is “enough.”

Let’s take a few cases in point.

We have a situation in this society where people are unable to earn “enough” to make a living. They find themselves in this position because of the way society currently values occupations, rewards outcomes, or seeks to regulate expenditures.

“There isn’t enough in the budget to give health care to all.”

“There aren’t enough hours in the day to work enough to pay the rent, buy the food, send the kids to college, .. no matter how many jobs at minimum wage I get.

“We don’t have enough positions open, or enough customers, or large enough profits, or enough resources to pay you more.”

We have this situation at the same time that we are unable to determine what the upper limits of compensation should be for others.

There appears to be no “enough” for a CEO, it is whatever it takes to secure that desired person.

There is no “enough” for a desired coach, sports player, entertainer, or celebrity. It is whatever it takes to get that person to do it.

There is no “enough” for shareholders, it is always “how much more.”

People seem unable or unwilling to self limit and say “that’s enough” or “that’s more than enough” for what you are asking me to do.

You see what I mean?

It is an “enough” problem that fuels the conversations. How much would be “enough” of a wage to lift people out of poverty?

When we do try to address that question of “enough”, we find ourselves sidetracked into comparison conversations. An amount for a minimum wage is proposed that would be “enough”, and immediately that amount is compared to what some other sector makes. “You mean you want to pay a burger flipper as much as a …”

So now, we are no longer talking about what would be “enough,” are we?

Or how about this conundrum? We have a society that is awash with firearms. In 2017 the statistics for the U.S. indicated that there are 120 civilian firearms for every 100 citizens alive in the U.S. (The next highest was the Falkland Islands with 62 firearms to every 100 citizen.) Please note, not included in these figures are any National Guard Armories, Military arms, or Law Enforcement armories. Just in the civilian circulation we have enough guns out there for every living person regardless of age to have one, and 20% to have more than one.

Gun shows occupy exposition center square footage when they come to town, and they often require more square footage to display hand held devices than are needed to display boats, RV’s or Motor Vehicles.

The Constitution does indeed guarantee the “right to bear arms” to American Citizens.

What the Constitution does not give guidance on is the type of firearm one might possess and how many firearms are “enough,” to assure a well regulated militia.

We can never seem to get around to talking about “enough” when it comes to guns. The conversation always cycles quickly to individual rights to own, and to the fear of criminals having guns while law-abiding citizens are denied them for self protection.

There are no good statistical numbers on the effectiveness of firearms for self-protection. The estimates vary wildly depending on special interest bias.

We can’t even effectively study the issue as congress has blocked government agencies like the CDC from studying gun violence and the public welfare effects of gun ownership.

There is no way to get a measure of “enough” if there is no independent measurement.

What is measurable is the number of injuries and deaths because of the ready availability of firearms. 30,000+ deaths annually in the U.S., 21,000+ of them successful suicides because of the availability of firearms. 500+ accidental deaths by firearm discharge on the owners.

It is not my intention to enter into debate about the 2nd Amendment here, but only to point out that it appears that conversations of “enough” are left out of the equation.

Although I started this message early in the month, it does appear that one country has initiated a conversation. New Zealand has indicated “enough is enough” and has moved swiftly both to support their Muslim population in the wake of the Mosque shootings, and to initiate gun control measures for automatic weapons and magazine sizes.

The “scandal du jour” breaking as I write this involves bribery at learning institutions, celebrities and wealthy individuals scamming the system to get their children into Ivy League institutions.

Again, this is a question of “enough” isn’t it? Getting my children into schools perceived as “good enough” even if my child’s grades or test scores aren’t “good enough” to warrant admission.

How much is “enough” to exert your influence over others, or institutions? Should you be able to do that?

I’m going on too long here, but one of the reasons why the church talks a lot about Stewardship is to equip people to begin to answer, (or at least struggle with) the “enough” questions. The one question that the forces at work in this world so studiously avoids.

I know that sometimes when the church talks about stewardship people are tempted to think, “I have enough problems in life, I don’t really have time or want to think about what I give to God.”

I want you to recall in that moment all of the “enough” problems that surround us all.

Could it be that spending a little intentional time considering “enough” in your own life through the eyes of faith might just help you navigate with some clarity all the other “enough” problems that plague this world?

Just a thought.

That’s enough.

Pastor Merle.