A Sense of Utter Inadequacy


I’ve been quiet for a few weeks now, due to a head cold that knocked me on my heiny and wouldn’t let me back up for almost 2 weeks.  It was a good break and gave me a chance for some inner reflection and observation.

I listen to a lot of music.  I mean, lots and lots of music.  Most of it is just notes and guitar solos, but there are a few bands that I listen to when I get introspective because their lyrics are convicting and make me think.

SOJA is one of those bands.  Their newest album Strength to Survive is a masterpiece.  Both lyrically and musically, this is an album I can listen to over and over and over again.  One song in particular stuck in my head as I was out sick.  It has been like a grain of sand since the first time I heard it, an irritant that starts slowly at first and never goes away and grows, well, more irritating as time progresses.  Nothing Ever Changes is the title.  Hit the play button and then scroll down and read the lyrics as the song plays.

What do we really need
In this life
I look at myself sometimes
And it’s not right

People out there with no
Food at night
And we say we care, but we don’t
So we all lie

What if there is more to this
in one day
We become what we do
not what we say

And we end up in
All the shit that they’re in
And roles are reversed
And it were different

And we were the ones
With nothing to eat
And we were the ones
With blood in our streets

We were the ones
With all the offspring
And they were the ones
Just watching on TV

We were the ones
Broke down and torn
With our life on our back
And our wife in our arms

And they were the ones
Like damn that’s so sad
We were the ones
Like OH…

Nothing ever changes
The only thing I know
Nothing ever changes
Looking down this road
Nothing ever changes
Nothing ever changes

Look at your dreams
And your aspirations
How selfish it is
To need to mention

Turning a thousand zin
To millions
Marry a model
Have some children

Well they’ve got dreams too
I can imagine
What if it all comes back
To kill them

Sleeping at night
Without a murder
And somebody tells you
That’s something they’ve never heard of

Now look at your nightmare
All of your worst fears
You’re calling your house
And girl it stops there

All these things
We can’t imagine loosing
Like oh no
What if it happens to me

Well what you’ve got
They’ve never had
To be like you
To have your chance
To be like you
Before they’re gone

Nothing ever changes
At least that’s how we act
Like nothing ever changes
Like god has got our backs
And nothing ever changes
I’m looking down this road
And all I see is pain, yes

Maybe we need more
Shoes on our feet
Maybe we need more
Cash and jewelry

Maybe we need more
Cars and TV’s
Maybe we don’t know
What we need

Maybe we need
To want to fix this
Maybe stop talking
Maybe start listening

Maybe we need
To look at this world
Less like a square
And more like a circle

Maybe just maybe
God’s not unfair
Maybe were all his kids
And he’s up there

Maybe he loves us
For all our races
Maybe he hates us
When were all so racist

Maybe he sees us
Down here so selfish
Takes this whole planet
And just tries to melt it

Maybe the meat
Will inherit the earth
‘Cause it was written before

So everything changes
Nothing stays the same
And everything changes
And if you feel ashamed
Maybe you should change this
Before it gets too late
Maybe you should change this
We’re standing at the gate
Maybe you should change this
Because everything changes
You should change this
Because everything changes
Everything changes
Everything changes

It is an impactful song that reminds us of the poor in the world and how those of us with means should help those without.  Like I said, I have listened to this song probably 100 times and every time has made pause the music on my $700 Galaxy Note 3 while I’m sitting in my $180,000 house with heating and air conditioning and food in the fridge; and it has made me think about how I won the cosmic lottery by being born in America where a person with a few years of college can actually earn money to pay for that and take care of a family.

So this song is one grain of irritating sand.  Then my daughter who is an economics major at UC Davis sends me the following video about the income disparity in the United States.

And then the following week I hear about an article in The Atlantic about how the 85 richest people in the world have more wealth than the poorest 3 billion.  My brain still can’t compute those numbers

I’m a staunch libertarian and promote the free market of capitalism every chance I get.  Surely the statistics of the above video and article couldn’t be correct?!  At least I used to be a strong libertarian.  When I was a strong Christian, these topics never seemed to bother me so much.  I can’t say why or why not, but when I embraced my non-belief, I was finally able to see humanity, weak and broken as it was.  I guess humanism was a good thing for me to experience!  (NOTE: this is my own personal experience and I’m in no way saying that other Christians have to go through the loss of faith to want to help their fellow humans.)

As I swung back to theism and a more progressive branch of Christianity, the love and desire to help a broken human race has stayed with me in a very real way.  I just have no idea how to carry out that love and desire.

When I look at the incredible wealth of the ultra-wealthy and the depth of poverty of the truly poverty stricken, I literally am stunned to immobility.  How do I as one tiny little human in Merced California make any kind of dent in the problems of the world?

In the words of every famous infomercial, BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

As I mentioned in my opening post, the plight of one girl’s experience in the human trafficking epidemic had a huge impact on me.

map of modern slavery

Last week my friend Joel Schaap tweeted about the status of slavery in our modern world.  This map of slavery that is present in the world RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE hurts my brain and my soul.

World poverty, income inequality, slavery, human sex trafficking, child armies:  how am I supposed to process all this without feeling completely overwhelmed?  This isn’t a rhetorical question.  If anyone has a real answer, please comment below.  I feel trapped by A Sense of Utter Inadequacy.

Have you ever seen the movie Machine Gun Preacher?  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It is one tough movie to watch.  The main character goes to the war torn country of Sudan and sees children brutalized and killed in a horrible fashion.  It fundamentally changes him.  He becomes a man obsessed. When he is back in the States, all he can do is try to get money to help those children who will be murdered without this help

How do we not become like this?  If we decide to wade in and help the poorest of the poor and protect the children of the world, how do we not become obsessed?  I know my personality is one that is either on or off, so I have a hard time finding middle ground.



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