One of the great mysteries of our now is the fact that we live in an age of Causeless Effects.
Once upon a time, of course, things were defined as Cause and Effect or, if you suffered through High School or College Physics, Action and Reaction. In either case, if something happens, something else will happen.
You all remember this thinking, of course. If there is an effect - say if my car develops a flat tire - there is a cause, which most likely looks a nail or screw that had fallen into the roadway. If there is an action - say I drop a match into a combination of fuel and oxygen - there is a reaction, which looks hopefully like me starting the fire I intended or not so hopefully me beating out something on fire (both have happened).
In either event, of course, there a reason for the thing that occurred. Things just do not "happen" out of the blue.
Except in the modern world, of course.
In the sermon yesterday, the title of recent article was quoted "Why Everyone Is So Rude Right Now" from September 2021 in Time Magazine. In it, the authors quoted a number of recent events at that time - a Southwest Airlines attendant getting attacked by a customer, a customer pulling a gun on a waitress, etc. (and that was then. It has gotten much worse). The reasons, are the sorts of things that given out at this point: The Plague, long separations, instability, changing of power structures, etc. They think.
But we have had Plagues, long separations, instability, and power structures that have shifted before and scarcely resulted in the sorts of thing we are seeing now (in the perhaps worst incident of this to date, a woman was physically and sexually assaulted on a Philadelphia subway while people watched and filmed it. No-one intervened).
Our cities burn, and we are confused. Businesses and citizens move from one state to another, and the originating state is mystified as to why anyone would leave. We having surging business needs, yet less workers than ever, even though our population is greater than before. We are more spiritual, yet the churches continue to empty out in the midst of a growing "spirituality". Our prices continue to rise due to reasons which seem unknown to the governments that set economic policy.
And so on.
We have entered the Age of Causeless Effects, where things mysteriously just occur for no discernable reason except well, you know, "things happen".
This is tripe, of course. All effects have causes and reactions have actions leading to them. The difficulty is that in order to actually see the causes and actions, one has to want to see them, ideally to understand how one got to the place one and so get back on course or repair the problem if not simply to find one's self on the map.
But seeing causes and actions is the issue.
To be willing to see the causes and actions in one's life, let alone anywhere else, means that one has to have a dedicated degree of introspection to be able to see such things and take steps to correct or mitigate the problem. It is to be humble enough to - perhaps - acknowledge that one's course has been the cause or action creating the effect or reaction. To simply coast along, strangely confused by everything that is happening without the slightest degree of understanding why it is happening, is to be a child in the playing a sandbox, surprised that one's self is becoming wet and the sand is clumping yet not understanding that the rain is falling to make it so.
The great challenge to fixing any problem is understanding how the problem was created in the first place. Our society as a whole has largely abrogated this responsibility, substituting its own perceived reasons for why things occur rather than actually looking at why they occur. My measuring stick for this is simply the successful resolution of a problem: if the action taken create either more of the same or do not decrease the ongoing issue, then the cause or action that you have pinpointed is not the right one (this is often my complaint about the modern church: they have taken all kinds of actions to makes themselves more palatable to the modern world, yet the modern world is much less reflective of Christianity. Their root cause analysis is flawed).
These things sort themselves out of course; they always do. Run a car engine without maintenance and oil long enough, and eventually the engine will not run at all. You will have the privilege of sitting at the side of the road, watching others fly by while you wait for a tow truck, only to be followed by either a new engine or a new car.
In the long run the future always belongs to the introspective, to those who understand the cause of their effects and the actions of their reactions. All others are just essentially living in a giant stream of consciousness drama on which the curtain will eventually descend.