Tiny Bubbles


Every day, I listen to NPR. I also watch Fox News on a daily basis. I tell people that I am either perfectly balanced or totally schizophrenic.

Some of the shows on the more biased news networks are just straight forward news. Some are extended opinion pieces. Some get high marks for production excellence. Few get high marks for in-depth reporting. They each have their entertainers masquerading as journalists or news analysts who overstate their case, holding up the most extreme example from the opposing view to conveniently ridicule them. They try their darnest to rile people up and increase their ratings; rather than help their audience truly understand an issue. These so-called news outlets are bubbles presenting their version of what is happening in the world.

I have voted for Republicans and for Democrats and have learned that politicians over promise and under deliver. Seldom do they ever finish well. Political parties are just two more bubbles so locked into ideologies and paradigms, that they have paralyzed our government.

For over twenty years I was a pastor. Now that I am removed from that scene, I see the church as one of the hardiest bubbles in our culture. While some churches are doing great things in their communities, the vast majority of most churches’ resources are internalized. They emphasize the need to get worshipped-up, taught-up, fixed-up, and dedicated-up in their support of the church. I find it to be generally ineffective, self-serving, and not much like Jesus.

As I have attempted to venture into social service work and community involvement over the last few years, I found another bubble. Social service agencies are locked into programs that are usually funded by the government or foundations. They measure output, instead of outcome. Their client/provider paradigm is a weird symbiotic relationship in which the client becomes dependent upon the services of the agency and the agency is dependent upon having a steady stream of clients to maintain their funding.

One can wonder what would happen if agencies opted out of the quick fix of the hand-out and treated people like human beings, instead of cattle, and helped them out with acute needs and working with them to develop and pursue their own plan for improving their life.

I have never seen an open bubble. It’s very difficult to get into a bubble. People in the bubble have paid their dues. They have drunk the Kool-Aid. They have earned the favor of the other bubbliest by their adherence to principles of the bubble. Outsiders and newbies may be tolerated, but they will not be heard.

It’s also hard to see out of a bubble. The rest of the world is seen through a soapy blur of refracted light. Since bubbleists are secluded in their bubble, they can only speculate about those outside. Some think those outside of the bubble are evil and to be feared and avoided. Certainly, they are outsiders who are ignorant of the ways of the bubble and they “just don’t get it.”

So, it’s hard to get in the bubble and hard to see out of the bubble.

Yet, bubbles are fragile. They have to be protected or all will be lost. Therefore, there are guardians of the ways of the bubble who seek to detect dangers, like someone who has different idea or a person who is asking strange questions. If the bubble breaks, it would be horrible. Bubbleists could lose their job, their pension, and their sense of significance.

What if we concluded that these bubbles (societal structures) simply are not serving us well? What if we quit trying the break back into the cage, I mean, bubble? What if we moved on from cataloging the faultiness of their ways and began to criticize by creating? What if we changed the system by ignoring it? What if we began to use more and more of our energy in positive ways? What if our dreams began to take flight?

We are in desperate need of visionaries, entrepreneurs, creators and collaborators. So, if you have been given the left hand of fellowship or have been invited to leave a bubble, don’t despair. If you have opted out of a bubble; you are not an oddball or a troublemaker. It might just be one of the most important moves you have ever made.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller 

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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