…urgency and convenience…

“Politics is the science of urgencies.”– Theodore Parker

What makes the images we carry around with us difficult to bear is the trade-off we make between urgency and convenience.

In my last post, I avoided a fuller explanation of vocation since I knew that it would touch upon the problem of urgency and convenience. 

The whole notion of vocation is built around the idea of a ‘call’ or ‘calling.’  It originates from spiritual and philosophic disciplines, but it is still common to ask, “Is your vocation — your calling — as well?”  Ideally it is, but not always. 

A ‘call’ describes work that is given to us both from within and from without.  It is the resonance that speaks deeply to some part of us, as well as a manifest opportunity open to us.  Any vocation enfolds this idea of a ‘call.’  As Margaret Wheatley says, “we cannot talk about vocation or calling without acknowledging that there is something going on beyond our narrow sense of self.”  I would believe that the image values we carry have something to do with that.  The way our imagination brings the world to us inform how we respond and seek to be bigger than ourselves.  But then, there is this problem of urgency and convenience.

Whatever enables me to see my actions as “larger than myself” is also sensitive to the pressures which create urgency, both in myself and in my environment.  Each root image we will examine over the next few blogs has two contradictory sides and depending on our level of urgency, we are likely to favor one side over the other:  war over peace; illusion over truth; fear over growth, life over death.  Part of what energizes a dynamic is the urgency that goes into it.  The urgency we offer by virtue of our desire.

You see, urgency is on a continuum with convenience, but as dynamic expressions they can replace one another at any moment.  Urgency can be “solved” through convenience and convenience can be “complicated” through urgency.  It takes courage all around to staunch  the desire for the easy answer, the quick fix, the magic that makes the problem “go away.”   We can only put ourselves into the world by entering into a dynamic that implicates how we choose to leverage our trust and engagement.  After that we are “cooked into the cake.” Unknown forces push themselves upon us, eventually.  We cannot second guess all eventualities.  

Finally, urgency and convenience always implicates our humanity.  Whenever two people are truly at odds, it is because they cannot find a way to be human with one another.   The dividing issue and its terms – either a respect for urgency or a respect for convenience – make “the vocation of being fully human” almost impossible.  Not finally impossible, but almost.

There are solutions: making conversation and understanding, finding a new kind of trust and engagement, sharing a renewed belief in the future; but none of these can happen without a tolerance for vulnerability. And that’s really the point, vulnerability is real and “in-your-face” once the problem of urgency and convenience comes to the surface.  There’s no place to hide. 

As Desmond Tutu said, “Love is much more demanding than law.”  That’s any law, even laws which spring from our imagination.

Thanks for listening!


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