It’s pretty easy to listen to the news broadcasts these days and become depressed.
In fact, it doesn’t make much difference what your personal opinion is on any of the major controversies facing us; the appropriate response is depression.
Which means it is a good time to stop reading the newspapers and start reading the Bible, particularly the book of Ecclesiastes.
And if you were to sum up the message of Ecclesiastes, it is that if we look at the world seriously we will be depressed, but not downhearted.
For example, this week I’ve been looking at Ecclesiastes, Chapter 5:
Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to believe that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth – except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers.
The writer is talking about money, but you can substitute any other value and the passage will read about the same.
The ferocious national debate about guns has detracted attention from the fact that gun sales in this country have gone through the roof since the Connecticut school massacre – and sales of the semi-automatic assault rifle used in so many killings are particularly robust, as are sales of ammunition. One fellow just ordered 32,000 rounds of ammunition from a web site and had them shipped to Kentucky, according to Yahoo News.
Those who love guns will never have enough, Ecclesiastes might say. How absurd to think that all ammunition will bring true safety.
Now, there’s a market for bullet-proof back packs for our kids and prognosticators are predicting that we will soon see armored baby carriages.
It goes beyond money and guns. Republicans have never seen a tax they want to increase; Democrats have never seen an entitlement they want to cut, though, to be honest, I don’t see the moral equivalency between protecting tax breaks for billionaires and protecting school lunches for poor kids.
It can all be pretty depressing. But, since it is a new year, we might also consider another passage from Ecclesiastes 5:
Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine and enjoy their work – whatever they do under the sun – for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life – that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.
Hardly a clarion call for social change, but a good alternative to the racing around in circles we mostly seem to be doing these days.