“Now Joseph was governor over the land; it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. ‘Where do you come from?’ he said. They said, ‘From the land of Canaan, to buy food.’ Although Joseph had recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Joseph also remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about them.” Genesis 42:6-9a, NRSV
When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt for grain, and he saw them, and recognized them, we can imagine that his world was rocked. The ground shifted for him. His reality was suddenly redefined.
For people alive today, it seems like reality is constantly shifting and changing. People are unsettled and anxious. There is so much change and it is happening so fast. Within just a few years, less than 50% of the population of the US will be of European descent. That’s a drastic shift. Sea level rise continues apace and many homes and beaches that we now enjoy will be gone in our lifetimes. That’s another huge adjustment. If you don’t use the internet, you are almost excluded from participating in mainstream society, and you certainly are at a disadvantage for everything from getting a job to buying a car to healthcare. Change. Change. Change.
I have recently heard about a book by Rebecca Traister called All The Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation. This book examines the changing landscape for women in the US given that as of 2009 less than half of the women in the US were married. That’s a huge shift in the social fabric of America. There are all kinds of implications about the greater options for women, having children without getting married, the decreasing stigma of being an “old maid.” It’s great that women are gaining more freedom and equality.
But this new trend also has implications for men. Heterosexual men have been socialized to get married and have a family. They have been shaped to think of themselves as breadwinners for their families. Stay at home dads have made an impact but have not become common. Now with less women choosing marriage, what happens to the men who want to choose marriage, but have a smaller pool of partners to choose from? Less women marrying changes the social landscape for men. So, they need to adjust to changes in their world. As the mother of two sons, white men, I see all the changes that they are dealing with as society shifts around them.
As we see our world rocked and our reality shifting in many ways, we want to remember that others are having similar experiences. It is a time to be compassionate toward one another in this country and around the world. It is a time to focus on understanding and reaching out to see the perspectives of others. We are all having our adjustment problems. It is not a time to be “me” focussed and only see our own anxieties. While disturbing, these changes can also bring us together. Change may be difficult but it also means that we are alive, and we hope, that we are progressing toward a more egalitarian, peaceful world.
Life is changing so fast. We seem to face one transition after another. It is easy to want to stop time, go back, to what was more familiar and comfortable and solid for us. As our reality shifts may we look for how it brings us closer to others, may we look for common bonds. May we look to all the possibilities of the future and new things that Love is birthing. Amen.