Are There Any Adults in the Room?

by Rev. Peter E. Bauer

A friend of mine told me about a meeting that they once attended. This was a meeting of military health care professionals. The agenda was to determine what to do about a significantly ill patient regarding their course of care. Instead of deliberating carefully considering options that might benefit this patient, my friend observed that the committee members were passing around a set of bells, like reindeer bells, and were ringing them! My friend thought that this behavior was most bizarre and inappropriate. The question was raised, “Is there any adult in the room?!”

You might have experienced this type of inactive behavior in a particular setting whether it be business, a social or community organization like a church, etc. When people are nervous or anxious about making any type of important decision, it can be ever so easy to revert to juvenile behavior; they can be tempted to “ring the reindeer bells.”

There are major concerns that are facing humanity right now: i.e., the environment and sustainability for the future; the economy; terrorism and the risk of continued open-ended war; how to provide accessible and affordable health care for all; and how to provide accessible and affordable education for all.

One wonders, right now, if there is any significant headway being made on any of these issues.

For those who are concerned about the environment the news has not been good. The year 2016 was reported as having the hottest summer in recorded history. During the drought in 2011, Texas wildlife took a huge hit especially with a lot of loss regarding cattle. We are still a fossil fuel-driven economy. Although huge strides have been made in the generation of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy, our country is still wedded to the gas station fuel pump.

Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.

Recently, Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org who teaches at Middlebury College, was asked if society became more biblically literate would we be better caretakers of the planet?

Bill McKibben observed:

“Maybe, but I don’t know. I haven’t noticed any great correlation. I’m afraid if you look around, it’s often people who are least likely to be engaged with the church or a synagogue or a mosque who are often standing up for Creation. And a lot of people have tried to use the Bible to figure out rationalization for doing what we’re doing to heat up the planet, kill off species and whatever else. Source: http://religionnews.com/2017/04/28/bill-mckibben-talks-faith-on-his-way-to-the-climate-march/

Why wouldn’t Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc., not want to save the earth that has been created by God? Are we still captured by this mentality of “manifest destiny” and of control and dominion over the earth? Years ago, I had an Air Force chaplain tell me with a straight face “Don’t worry about overpopulation in the world, Alaska’s not full yet!”

Again, is there any adult in the room?

Our collective anxiety regarding the future of life as we currently know it will not be assuaged by a continual denial of reality. We won’t feel secure or safe by continuing to be deluded by the alternative facts, fake news, and perpetual shell game, deride and discount mentality of the politicians who are currently in power. There is nothing heroic in the behavior displayed by a former president who was heard to say in a response to a question regarding concern about global warming:

“Don’t worry, we’ll all we dead by then.”

Strategic, long-range leadership and planning matters. Demographics, statistical and research data matters. If most of the Arctic is melting, it matters that people in political positions of authority take serious attention and respond to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of humanity.

Now is not the time for childish gaming. We need as many responsible adults in the room that we can muster.

If you want to ring “reindeer bells,” then go to a Christmas party!

May it be so.