Thomas Hobbes (image courtesy of famousbiographies.org)
On the surface of things, it appears that not much has changed over say, the last 4 centuries. It is as if it is in our DNA to not trust, respect or even get along with people who differ from us by skin color, nationality, or political bent. Recent events in this country have brought these latent feelings to a boiling point once again.
Listening to the car radio the other day, I heard a speaker reference Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher from the 17th century. I was struck by the similarities of his thoughts from 1651 to the current state of affairs.
Hobbes, in his most famous work Leviathan, wrote the following:
“Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry… no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Emphasis added)
The focus of this work by Hobbes was the plight of humankind living without a strong leader. I’ll leave that particular thought alone and instead focus on his description of society bound for chaos as noted in the bold print above.
Our news feeds are filled destruction and violence as years of oppression and struggle have been brought to a head by the thoughtless taking of lives by those paid to protect and preserve it. I am not here to argue one point versus the other; only to say that every life is precious in the eyes of our Creator and we should hold each other in that type of esteem as well.
What strikes me is how close Hobbes description of life in anarchy reflects ours today, some 450 years later! The more things stay the same, the more they stay the same. Many are living daily with the fear of violent death, which casts a pall over the lives of any thinking and caring person. It indeed can make the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.
I, for one, don’t want to have this dark description be true of my life, and in fact, it is not. Though I do not have much of a say as to the brevity of my life, I certainly do have when it comes to being solitary, poor, nasty or brutish. And please understand, on my own I have made no great strides with any of these. It is only through the grace of God, poured out on me through the Savior Jesus Christ that has raised me out of the mire.
As Edward Mote wrote in that great hymn, my hope too is in Jesus Christ. Only when we, that is all of us, embrace the righteousness that only comes from the Lord, can we live as a people not described by Hobbes.
Jesus left clear instructions: Love others as He loved all. When individuals can truthfully live out this command of Jesus is when we will see true cracks in the walls of hatred and judgment of others.
Let us begin today to be what history will record us as. With God’s help we can be remembered as people who loved others as themselves, who promoted forgiveness and kindness instead of division and strife.
I pray for a grassroots growth of many individuals coming to know the love of God, for He truly is humanity’s only true hope.
1 My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in ev’ry high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil. [Refrain]
3 His oath, his covenant, his blood
support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay. [Refrain]
4 When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found,
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne. [Refrain]
Source: Trinity Psalter Hymnal #459
Lyrics by Edward Mote
May you all come to know more deeply the love God has for you,