Solutions (October 7)


“To spend an hour worrying on our knees is not prayer. Indeed, there are times when it is our duty, having committed a problem to God in prayer, to stop praying and to trust and to do the necessary work to arrive at a solution” (Oliver Barclay).

LIFE IS FULL OF PUZZLES AND PROBLEMS THAT NEED SOLUTIONS. Indeed, most of our activities on an average day are in one way or another efforts to find solutions — our work basically consists of answering questions, filling needs, and so forth. Unfortunately, we don’t always see that this is what our work is, and so rather than patiently find solutions, we worry. We fret. We pray. We do almost everything except “do the necessary work to arrive at a solution.”

How much better it would be if we threw ourselves gratefully and productively into the seeking of solutions. There’s more than a little truth in the saying that “a problem is only an opportunity in work clothes.” Being faced with tough questions that need sensible answers doesn’t have to be seen as onerous or oppressive; it can be seen as the special work that only rational creatures have the privilege of doing.

We should be reminded, of course, that solutions are not good in and of themselves. As Robert B. Reich noted, “Few ideas are more dangerous than good solutions to the wrong problems.” It takes wisdom to see which problems really need solutions and which ones can safely be passed over, but that is a wisdom we desperately need today.

I believe we need to live and work in the confidence that worthy solutions can be found, at least to the problems that lie within our responsibility as human beings. We may not personally find the answers, at least anytime soon. In fact, no one else may find them in our lifetime. But eventually, there is no valid puzzle to which a solution can’t be found, and it helps us to work with that kind of faith.

It’s an admirable aim to want to be a solution seeker. Certainly we ought to seek solutions rather than create problems. But more than that, we ought to be those who work at finding solutions and not those who merely desire them. In the end, there isn’t any neutral ground: if we stand aside and watch while others “do the necessary work to arrive at a solution,” then we’ve become a part of the problem.

“You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem” (Leroy Eldridge Cleaver).

Gary Henry –