A head-line in the two-week old “Week in Review” from the New York Times stacked beside my reading corner because I hadn’t had time to finish the paper read, “Our Fix-It Faith” and went on to detail how American’s faith in technology to always fix whatever problems civilization faced was being seriously tested in the Gulf oil spill. That faith in technology to fix is the same faith we seem to carry in fixing everything: work related problems, our bodies, a computer, a car,  and especially relationships. We fix. The problem is that the dedication to fixing seems in direct opposition to accepting our being in the world.

No, I’m not suggesting that the oil spill and the destruction it has caused has to be accepted. That’s not my point. I’m thinking instead of the idea that our faith resides in fixing.

In many ways, the fixation on fixing denies the actuality of being. Things break. And thinking, or assuming something can be fixed leads to carelessness. We are careless with our human relationships and careless in the way we treat the natural world. Our automobiles encase us in technology, so we’re not aware of the other humans on the highway; our computers encase us in connectivity and ideas so we are not aware of our bodies; our houses with air-conditioning and home entertainment centers and safety devices and alarms have disconnected us from our neighborhoods. Technology has created a bubble of protection that denies breaking, except for the realization that the technology needs repair from time to time. But we deal with that. It’s an annoyance but we deal. We get it fixed.

The ocean depths, on the other hand, are dark and unknown. We know more about the far outer reaches of space, millions and millions of miles away, than we do about the sea floor seven miles beneath water. Seven miles! The deepest part of the Pacific is only seven miles below the surface.

There lies the abyss and we have no idea what it is or how to think about it.  On the earth or in ourselves. When you leap into the abyss, you don’t get second chances.

Maybe that’s why “God” came to live in the sky in human consciousness. There was lots of space and, okay, lightning strikes and floods and hurricanes from time to time, but no dark abyss. The “she” of earth, the dark, mysterious, gestating body, felt entirely too intimidating. Humans could fix the surface but going deeper takes a lot of effort.

Maybe that is why we fix. Fixing is a lot simpler than the depth of consciousness necessary to see the natural world as sacred. Humans are part of the natural world. And the natural world dies. Slowly, in some cases, but the natural world dies. Technology transforms into new ideas but it doesn’t die. Perhaps our faith in technology, and our lack of faith in other humans, comes from the same dynamic.

8 thoughts on “Fixing

  1. Not getting eaten by the lion is valuable…I wonder if our lions have, however, transformed into less visible dangers – dangers when still chomp us when least expected.

  2. before technology our worries were simple. find some berries to eat, don’t get eaten by the lion. technology fixed that. gyms do great business because our bodies still crave the ability to run away from the lion. but we don’t have to. now our worries are more abstract, and harder to call a name, so we drive faster, and work harder at non physical jobs. it’s like the addiction that feeds itself. the hardest yet most important thing is to have faith in is ourselves and there are no (ok few) shortcuts. good luck everybody

  3. Your third paragraph has given me a peg on which to hang the last twenty years. The electronic age is the ironic pardox of connectivity/disconectivity. We only think we are one world because the thin electronic threads which hold us are too fragile to be seen leaving us blind to their fragility.

  4. I turn the sprinkler on low just to watch the robins come take a bath! What a gift of birds you have to watch – and thank you for the “small piece” you gift to the world.

  5. I come home from the hardware store, sit on my back porch, sometimes with a drink, sometimes with water, and watch the birds at my feeders and bird bath. Robins seem to enjoy baths more than most birds–really get into it. I try to let go of the hum of computers and fluorescent lights, angry people, dissatisfied because thing aren’t working their way, an owner who enforces ridiculous rules and pays nothing in return, pressure to be perfect(lots of which I put on myself). I go out in the yard barefooted and reconnect. I am such a small piece, but delighted by the red-tailed hawks who have made a nest in the park across the street, the gold finches, the silly baby birds who know how to fly but not where. God, Mother Earth, are everywhere, but seemingly not in most people. Bewildering.

  6. Thanks Janet. I often worry about our failure to live into the great mystery. Oh yeah, I like my cell phone, but it and other aspects of technology are not why I’m on the earth.

    1. What a nice response. Thank you Terry. Perhaps, in reality, we always live in the great mystery whether we realize it or not.

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