March 2007 - Column:

On being born at the wrong time

Chalmers Holmes
One Moment, Please
By Chalmers Holmes

Smoke Signals editor John Shivers, in his column in February’s paper, expressed his opinion that “Today’s world ain’t my world.” He said that too many things afflict him requiring his attention and action that either ought not be or should be simplified.

One of the things that bother him is the plethora of offers by mail for additional credit cards. Another was the difficulty of getting any simple matter handled that should be simple… such as health insurance.

His conclusion was that he was born either too early or too late.

His frustration is one common to all of us. And it is not new; the earliest recorded statement I know of is 2,000 years old.

It was stated by the Apostle Paul.

Paul had been recounting the people who had seen the risen Christ. He was seen by Simon Peter, then by the disciples in a group. Then He appeared to more than 510 of the faithful at one time. Last of all to Paul himself.

It is at this point that Paul makes that interesting off-hand remark that gives us a glimpse into what this man was really like, with his frustration so much like ours.

He shows us how much like us he was. “Last of all,” he said, “he appeared to me as one born at the wrong time.” (1 Corinthians 15:8)

One born at the wrong time is born either too soon or too late. For Paul, coming into the kingdom was like one who comes into a movie half over. He had missed the earthly ministry of Jesus.

He was born too late.

As I view people today, it seems that this is the problem they face in their lives. There are two groups of us, whether we are young or old. There are some of us born too late, and there are those of us born too soon.

The conservative is born too late. Politically, economically, and every other way, he is born too late. For him, the golden age has come and gone. Things change too rapidly for him.

Just when he begins to get adjusted to the idea of Social Security, the government introduces Medicare. He hardly learns to live with the telephone companies’ area codes before the post office begins to use Zip Codes.

The poor conservative. Always born too late.

But if you pity the poor conservative, do the same for the poor liberal. He is born too early. His day has not come.

The liberal is sensitive to the injustices and inequities of the world. He want to end poverty and illiteracy. He dreams of a world utopia, but finds no solutions that produce the kind of world he wants to see. He feels like one born at the wrong time.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead looked at the frustrations we all have with this, put her tongue in her cheek, and said, “The next thing you know, prenatal children will organize to demand the right to name the time in which they are born.”

It would be a good trick if we could pull it off. But we can’t.

We must deal with life as it is and rest comfortably where we are.

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