In the many news reports of the past few days, I have been hearing the various pundits and experts use a common phrase to describe the newly emerging peace negotiations in Syria: "It's complicated."
Yesterday someone who is serving as a consultant to the negotiations was being interviewed in Geneva, and he was explaining why the process is so complicated. For one thing, Syria is in the midst of a civil war, and there are many rebel factions who want nothing to do with peace talks. Another complicating factor is that finding and ultimately destroying the stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria will probably take years (not days or months).
In yesterday's interview, a reporter asked the peace negotiator a fascinating question: "Since it is so complicated, is it worth it?" His response, "Of course, it's worth it; the alternative is war." I thought to myself, I guess it would be faster and easier to send rockets and bombs - far less complicated.
This morning as I sat in my meditation garden, I reflected on that interview I heard yesterday - especially thinking about the reporter's "fascinating" question. "since it's so complicated, is it worth it?" For me, that one little question betrays a fundamental attitude underlying much of our life today in this culture: "If something is too complicated, it isn't worth it."
We live in a society of convenience stores and fast-food restaurants. We pull up to the "drive-through" get what we want, and then throw away the dishes - no muss, no fuss. We press a computer key and instantly get all our answers to all our "googled" questions. When we are ill, getting better again is only a pill away.
Today we expect life to be fast, easy and relatively uncomplicated, and when it gets too difficult or when it becomes too complicated we ask, "Is it worth it?
Maybe that's why if the work gets too hard, we step away from it - if a relationship gets broken, we toss it onto the trash heap like those fast-food dishes rather than engage in the difficult and complicated work of repairing it.
As I see it, almost anything that counts in this life is not only difficult, but it is also complicated.
Finding meaning in life is complicated. Faith is complicated. Negotiating the peace is complicated. Building a world of justice is complicated. Respecting human dignity is complicated. Practicing compassion is complicated. Relationships are complicated - always complicated.
Living in a desert teaches me something about difficulty and complication. Nothing ever comes easy in this fiercely beautiful land of triple digits, rock mountains, crawling creatures, and miles of bone-dry, sandy terrain. And yet everyday I witness the most astounding sunrises and serene sunsets I have ever seen in my life. Every day I look out my front door and my breath is taken away by the majesty of the wilderness landscape. Every day I see flowers growing out of the dust and blooms on thorny cacti.
Yes the desert teaches me that life is indeed "complicated," but this is precisely what makes it all so beautiful.
My new book on amazon:
My new book on amazon: