The Unresolved

As a culture accustomed to sitcom scripts where all problems are neatly solved before the credits, we are uncomfortable with things that go on and on. We mistrust cyclical thinking and tend to get bored with repeated happenings. Sweet words to our ears are "It's a wrap!" or "And they lived happily ever after."

Life shows us a different paradigm of cycles that are not meant to be resolved. Indeed, some of these cycles actually affirm life with all its richness of textures.

A few for your consideration:

Political/Partisan turmoil and debate -- the very presence of constitutionally controlled strife proves that the engine of democracy is still running strong. (Not too much debate in North Korea.) Our Framers were wise in their construction of a system built on checks and balances. The tension among various branches of the federal government, for example, is the result of power-sharing and enumerated (read: limited) powers. Resolve this tension, and you can kiss your liberties goodbye.

Disruptions to the cycle of nature -- these disruptions and the subsequent adjustments of nature prove that this is a dynamic biosphere we live in. Never forget, Mr. Gore, that Mother Nature is one tough old bird. Look at what she has been through these last few millions of years! Consider that resilience, and our limited ability to have an impact on nature should give us hope and confidence in natural sustainability. (If you want a stable environment, move to Uranus: the perfectly named planet for liberals.)

Gender conflict -- perhaps the oldest human pastime; "Vive la Différence!" Should this conflict ever go away, then we as a race will have become androgynous, or one gender will have become absolutely dominant. While one or the other would resolve the tension between the sexes, these two options have spelled the doom of many societies in history too effete to survive natural selection and competition or too sexist to allow for human liberty.

Intergenerational conflict -- this is the natural order of things wherein the young jostle the old for their place at the table. The ensuing dialogue hopefully results in a transfer of facts whereby experience imparts its wisdom to immaturity. It certainly keeps the mature on their toes while injecting new thoughts, ideas, and energy into the social mix. Again, a resolution in this would either result in chaos (the '60s) or social stagnation.

The economic/business cycle -- that is boom times followed by economic retraction. Our president has expressed his desire to "flatten out the business cycle," a cherished Marxist goal. Yet the ups and downs themselves create possibilities and demand new solutions and excite the entrepreneurial spirit latent in us all. Much like the autumn winds blowing away summers' leaves, the free market must periodically sweep the square clear of the old and unproductive businesses that bar the way to future progress and investment. Why is it that few in Washington can see that "planned economies" never ever work? Answer: because it's about not the economy, but control.

That old and cynical Preacher in Ecclesiates bemoaned the repetitive nature  of life: "...all things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it[.]" Yet towards the end of his rather dark tome, he comes to realize that within the endless cycles of life, God's will resides.

Go. Eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already approved of what you do (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning ... (7:8).

Death, after all, is the Great Resolution and will come soon enough and unbidden. Conflict and recurring cycles are, on the other hand, proof of life.

Come. Let us reason together.

Rev. Dr. Hugh MacKenzie is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Long Branch, NJ.
As a culture accustomed to sitcom scripts where all problems are neatly solved before the credits, we are uncomfortable with things that go on and on. We mistrust cyclical thinking and tend to get bored with repeated happenings. Sweet words to our ears are "It's a wrap!" or "And they lived happily ever after."

Life shows us a different paradigm of cycles that are not meant to be resolved. Indeed, some of these cycles actually affirm life with all its richness of textures.

A few for your consideration:

Political/Partisan turmoil and debate -- the very presence of constitutionally controlled strife proves that the engine of democracy is still running strong. (Not too much debate in North Korea.) Our Framers were wise in their construction of a system built on checks and balances. The tension among various branches of the federal government, for example, is the result of power-sharing and enumerated (read: limited) powers. Resolve this tension, and you can kiss your liberties goodbye.

Disruptions to the cycle of nature -- these disruptions and the subsequent adjustments of nature prove that this is a dynamic biosphere we live in. Never forget, Mr. Gore, that Mother Nature is one tough old bird. Look at what she has been through these last few millions of years! Consider that resilience, and our limited ability to have an impact on nature should give us hope and confidence in natural sustainability. (If you want a stable environment, move to Uranus: the perfectly named planet for liberals.)

Gender conflict -- perhaps the oldest human pastime; "Vive la Différence!" Should this conflict ever go away, then we as a race will have become androgynous, or one gender will have become absolutely dominant. While one or the other would resolve the tension between the sexes, these two options have spelled the doom of many societies in history too effete to survive natural selection and competition or too sexist to allow for human liberty.

Intergenerational conflict -- this is the natural order of things wherein the young jostle the old for their place at the table. The ensuing dialogue hopefully results in a transfer of facts whereby experience imparts its wisdom to immaturity. It certainly keeps the mature on their toes while injecting new thoughts, ideas, and energy into the social mix. Again, a resolution in this would either result in chaos (the '60s) or social stagnation.

The economic/business cycle -- that is boom times followed by economic retraction. Our president has expressed his desire to "flatten out the business cycle," a cherished Marxist goal. Yet the ups and downs themselves create possibilities and demand new solutions and excite the entrepreneurial spirit latent in us all. Much like the autumn winds blowing away summers' leaves, the free market must periodically sweep the square clear of the old and unproductive businesses that bar the way to future progress and investment. Why is it that few in Washington can see that "planned economies" never ever work? Answer: because it's about not the economy, but control.

That old and cynical Preacher in Ecclesiates bemoaned the repetitive nature  of life: "...all things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it[.]" Yet towards the end of his rather dark tome, he comes to realize that within the endless cycles of life, God's will resides.

Go. Eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already approved of what you do (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning ... (7:8).

Death, after all, is the Great Resolution and will come soon enough and unbidden. Conflict and recurring cycles are, on the other hand, proof of life.

Come. Let us reason together.

Rev. Dr. Hugh MacKenzie is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Long Branch, NJ.

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