La Salette Missionaries, Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas

May You Live in Uninteresting Times

The following is a noted quote from a British politician and statesman: “I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety.”
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No, this is not a recent quote. It was delivered by Joseph Chamberlain during a speech in 1898 but it certainly could be understood as coming from a present-day politician or citizen, frustrated with the state of our own volatile political and global climate.

Interesting Versus Uninteresting Times

The quote sounds somewhat harmless but originally was given as a curse. It subliminally understands that “uninteresting times” presume that this person would have a life of peace and tranquility. To wish that someone would live in “interesting” times would be to wish that disorder and conflict would fill that person’s life instead.

In our ordinary daily lives, hopefully we have challenges but, thanks be to God, not many truly overwhelming and downright bad or “interesting” days. Yet, if the truth be told, we can certainly benefit from even these occasional bad days.

God writes straight with crooked lines

What gives me hope are the words of another person who said: “God writes straight with crooked lines”, written by St. Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373 CE). He meant that God can help us through the most difficult times, helping us learn from our mistakes or ask for help from another. In this wisdom, I find great comfort and have experienced this personally many times.

As each of us will no doubt experience, the loss of a loved one or close friend can be simply devastating, yet life can still go on. Examples abound of “God writing straight with crooked lines.”

Sometimes we experience how deeply we loved that person we have lost in this life and, with our enduring faith and love, continue to cherish their life, love and what they meant to us. For those of us who believe in the afterlife, we can certainly take comfort that our loved one is now at peace, experiencing the most blessed of “uninteresting” days with God eternally.

Even with the many challenges that our present-day life can offer, we must learn how to deal with the “interesting” days with a healthy perspective. I remember meeting a family who were having trouble with their teenagers (sound familiar?).

Offering a Helping Hand to Families

As I spoke with the parents, I discovered that the parents, innocently but tragically, had switched roles with their children, allowing them to tell their own parents what to do. In effect, the children were now the parents of this family. Consequently, the children could do anything they wanted, even sitting around, expecting the parents to do everything for them – and amazingly these parents welcomed this arrangement for a while.
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Then the parents came to me in their quandary. Their family was a mess, more than usual. I had one meeting with the entire family and pointed out my observations. Of course, the teens spoke up. Their parents seemed to understand what I was saying but readily admitted they had attempted to become “friends” with their teenagers.

I told the parents that love doesn’t mean that, in the process, they can forget their own responsibilities as leaders, guides and examples for their children. I suggested that they literally pray about this situation and get some professional help.

Thankfully they all went for family counselling and seem to have weathered the storm of their children’s teen years. This family grew through their challenges together and thankfully all have learned from the process.

On our part, we here at the La Salette National Shrine in Attleboro, along with local Rabbis, Ministers, Priests and family counselors are often called upon to help our people to learn how to “live in uninteresting times”; that is, deal appropriately and directly with the challenges that face us, perhaps avoiding the dangerous curse of “living in interesting times.”


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