Locust Days

Readability

Locust Days

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten —
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm —my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked won­ders for you;
never again will my peo­ple be shamed.”

Joel 2:2526

Although we live in a soci­ety that does, and has always, val­ued youth above all, there are cer­tain advan­tages to hav­ing made more than a few trips around the sun. One of these is learn­ing appre­ci­a­tion, albeit later in the day than would have been prefer­able, of how the life expe­ri­ences of pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions serve not only as their “liv­ing his­tory,” but can also be applied to today. The lessons that should have been learned, and often were learned, long ago are now unfor­tu­nately far too often dis­carded in favor of attempt­ing to yet again rein­vent the wheel. There is a bet­ter way, but look­ing around gives the firm impres­sion it is an utter mys­tery to mod­ern people.

Back in my par­ents’ day, which saw them in their child­hood fight­ing the Great Depres­sion and in their teen/​young adult years fight­ing World War II, pol­i­tics was as much a rough-​and-​tumble bareknuck­led busi­ness as is presently the case. How­ever, there was one notice­able dif­fer­ence between then and now. Those in Wash­ing­ton and var­i­ous state capitals/​local power centers/​etc. would and did fight like ter­ri­ers from 9 to 5. Yet after work they would go out together for drinks and social­iza­tion, set­ting aside polit­i­cal dif­fer­ences in favor of that which was more impor­tant. Namely, being human beings treat­ing each other in the same man­ner that they wished to be treated.

Those days have for the most part sadly dis­ap­peared in our present era, where actively prac­tic­ing the pol­i­tics of per­sonal destruc­tion has become the norm. Vicious direct attacks against any and all who dare to dif­fer one iota from cher­ished beliefs, then squeal­ing like a stuck pig cry­ing “racism,” “sex­ism,” and what­ever else you can come up with –ism (trans­la­tion: petu­lant but­thurt) when­ever some­body breathes so much as a word against you, or has the unmit­i­gated gall to respond in the same brute imper­sonal man­ner that the orig­i­nal mes­sen­ger put forth, is now stan­dard oper­a­tional pro­ce­dure. Actual politi­cians, those who make dis­cussing same voca­tion or avo­ca­tion; same method­ol­ogy. Snark for me, not for thee. There are occa­sional excep­tions. For exam­ple, the late Supreme Court jus­tice school Antonin Scalia and his coun­ter­part Ruth Bader Gins­berg were close friends. Unfor­tu­nately, one sel­dom sees Sarge and Fill­more in the same frame anymore.

Truth remains con­stant regard­less of what any given gen­er­a­tion holds dear. One of these truths is hop­ing every­one sooner or later has their own ‘and I will go sail­ing no more’ moment. At said moment, they accept as fact they are who they are and things are as they are with no con­sid­er­a­tion given to what one wishes or believes him or her­self to be, or any­thing on or above this planet might be. Also at said moment, hope rises that human­ity will lay claim to an indi­vid­ual by press­ing on their heart that pol­i­tics is a fool­ish blood sport when we all share the same blood.

Part of accept­ing things as they are is com­ing to grips with the truth that life can, and far more often than not does, hurt two ways: deeply and fre­quently. In a world of death and divorces and bro­ken promises and unjust job ter­mi­na­tions and unpayable bills, it can and oft­times does appear the glit­ter­ing promises of faith, Jesus pleas­ing us with love from above, that so many of us embraced dur­ing our heady days of youth­ful zeal were and are noth­ing but lol­lipop dreams in a cot­ton candy sky. This is the tip­ping point where more than a few angrily walk away, offer­ing no gen­uine alter­na­tive save their own bor­ing bit­ter­ness as they for­ever nurse a grudge against the God they no longer believe exists because the smile they were told ought to be per­pet­u­ally worn made for a lousy umbrella against life’s mer­ci­less vicis­si­tudes. Even when not taken to this extreme, when the locust days descend we’re not look­ing for some­one to tell us it’ll be all bet­ter some­time in the next fifty nine years. We want relief now. Because we need it. Now.

Even as it is a per­ni­cious lie that all ide­o­log­i­cal and/​or philo­soph­i­cal and/​or pol­icy bat­tles must be fought on a per­sonal level, it is utterly untrue that being left out in the cold rain and snow of life means either there is no God or He has stepped out for an extended lunch so please leave a mes­sage and maybe He’ll get back to you. We are told God is, well, God. And He is. We for­get to see the same God as He was one day long ago, a beaten, bloody, bro­ken body being exe­cuted via being nailed to a cross. It is not that God nei­ther cares nor is pre­oc­cu­pied when we are being pounded from all sides. He knows suf­fer­ing. He extends a nail-​pierced hand and says, “Come.” He does directly com­fort in ways the world can and will never under­stand. And He does remind us all things on earth are bound together by an omnipresent thread stat­ing this, too, shall pass.

The locust days can hover and smother for weeks, months, years, even decades, seem­ingly eat­ing us alive. But they will end. Those for­ever mar­i­nat­ing in vapid polit­i­cal squab­bles are miss­ing so much. The other per­son is also a per­son of value even as each of us is a per­son of value, not a thing to demol­ish. Each of us is inex­orably joined with each other regard­less of left and right, party and prac­tice. How do we respond? Do we con­tinue to drive divi­sion and hatred? Or do we resolve to throw away our end­less pathetic excuses? Onto those fol­low­ing either path the locust days will descend. We must choose whether to acqui­esce and crum­ble … or ascend and con­quer in Christ.

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten —
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm —my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.”

Joel 2:25-26

Although we live in a society that does, and has always, valued youth above all, there are certain advantages to having made more than a few trips around the sun. One of these is learning appreciation, albeit later in the day than would have been preferable, of how the life experiences of previous generations serve not only as their “living history,” but can also be applied to today. The lessons that should have been learned, and often were learned, long ago are now unfortunately far too often discarded in favor of attempting to yet again reinvent the wheel. There is a better way, but looking around gives the firm impression it is an utter mystery to modern people. 

Back in my parents’ day, which saw them in their childhood fighting the Great Depression and in their teen/young adult years fighting World War II, politics was as much a rough-and-tumble bareknuckled business as is presently the case. However, there was one noticeable difference between then and now. Those in Washington and various state capitals/local power centers/etc. would and did fight like terriers from 9 to 5. Yet after work they would go out together for drinks and socialization, setting aside political differences in favor of that which was more important. Namely, being human beings treating each other in the same manner that they wished to be treated.

Those days have for the most part sadly disappeared in our present era, where actively practicing the politics of personal destruction has become the norm. Vicious direct attacks against any and all who dare to differ one iota from cherished beliefs, then squealing like a stuck pig crying “racism,” “sexism,” and whatever else you can come up with -ism (translation: petulant butthurt) whenever somebody breathes so much as a word against you, or has the unmitigated gall to respond in the same brute impersonal manner that the original messenger put forth, is now standard operational procedure. Actual politicians, those who make discussing same vocation or avocation; same methodology. Snark for me, not for thee. There are occasional exceptions. For example, the late Supreme Court justice school Antonin Scalia and his counterpart Ruth Bader Ginsberg were close friends. Unfortunately, one seldom sees Sarge and Fillmore in the same frame anymore.

Truth remains constant regardless of what any given generation holds dear. One of these truths is hoping everyone sooner or later has their own ‘and I will go sailing no more’ moment. At said moment, they accept as fact they are who they are and things are as they are with no consideration given to what one wishes or believes him or herself to be, or anything on or above this planet might be. Also at said moment, hope rises that humanity will lay claim to an individual by pressing on their heart that politics is a foolish blood sport when we all share the same blood.

Part of accepting things as they are is coming to grips with the truth that life can, and far more often than not does, hurt two ways: deeply and frequently. In a world of death and divorces and broken promises and unjust job terminations and unpayable bills, it can and ofttimes does appear the glittering promises of faith, Jesus pleasing us with love from above, that so many of us embraced during our heady days of youthful zeal were and are nothing but lollipop dreams in a cotton candy sky. This is the tipping point where more than a few angrily walk away, offering no genuine alternative save their own boring bitterness as they forever nurse a grudge against the God they no longer believe exists because the smile they were told ought to be perpetually worn made for a lousy umbrella against life’s merciless vicissitudes. Even when not taken to this extreme, when the locust days descend we’re not looking for someone to tell us it’ll be all better sometime in the next fifty nine years. We want relief now. Because we need it. Now.

Even as it is a pernicious lie that all ideological and/or philosophical and/or policy battles must be fought on a personal level, it is utterly untrue that being left out in the cold rain and snow of life means either there is no God or He has stepped out for an extended lunch so please leave a message and maybe He’ll get back to you. We are told God is, well, God. And He is. We forget to see the same God as He was one day long ago, a beaten, bloody, broken body being executed via being nailed to a cross. It is not that God neither cares nor is preoccupied when we are being pounded from all sides. He knows suffering. He extends a nail-pierced hand and says, “Come.” He does directly comfort in ways the world can and will never understand. And He does remind us all things on earth are bound together by an omnipresent thread stating this, too, shall pass. 

The locust days can hover and smother for weeks, months, years, even decades, seemingly eating us alive. But they will end. Those forever marinating in vapid political squabbles are missing so much. The other person is also a person of value even as each of us is a person of value, not a thing to demolish. Each of us is inexorably joined with each other regardless of left and right, party and practice. How do we respond? Do we continue to drive division and hatred? Or do we resolve to throw away our endless pathetic excuses? Onto those following either path the locust days will descend. We must choose whether to acquiesce and crumble … or ascend and conquer in Christ.