ABC in the Reactive Mode
Today, I need to respond to Dwight’s reference to the speed of communication causing us to live in a reactive mode. I think this is a key to some of what’s wrong with us (and our society). One of the problems with living in a constant reactive mode is that it often involves adrenalin and adrenalin is addictive. There are varieties of opinions but it’s interesting to read about theories and studies regarding adrenalin addiction (living in constant stress and getting to the point of craving it) and adrenal exhaustion. When a crisis hits, we spring into action. Our adrenalin is pumping. But the body was designed to use adrenalin only occasionally, not constantly. The theory suggests that using adrenalin constantly results in a need for more – even to the point of creating a crisis if one is not readily available. Addiction. The eventual result is adrenal exhaustion (the inability to produce adrenalin – not a good thing).
It is possible to get addicted to dealing with the crisis-of-the-day, everyday and not understand what’s happening. When someone tries to set a new tone . . . the General Secretary’s call to radical discipleship . . . or NM’s new agenda on children in povery . . . we don’t see a vigorous response or a grass-roots mobilization . . . why? [I imagine Dr. Medley and Dr. Wright-Riggins have been wondering about the limited response to such great ideas.] We don’t get more jazzed about these initiatives because they don’t feed our addiction. We’d rather wait a few minutes for a new internal crisis. Then we can experience the reaction – reaction – reaction – exhaustion cycle. We don’t have the time or energy for reasoned, caring deliberation, reflection, and conversation. Many who have developed this addiction, don’t know it. [I’m not sure why children in poverty is not a “crisis” in this sense but somehow what I’m describing is generally exaggerated and dramatic in its effects on us personally.]
We are wasting our God given gifts in non-productive, energy sucking, reactive debate and strategizing and posturing and dramatic back-room conversations. [Trying to figure out what the insiders are doing – not realizing we’re all outsiders.]
The Regional Executive Ministers Council members have gotten extremely frustrated of late. It’s rare for anyone to end up as an Executive Minister unless they have high skills in problem solving. So we gather together these wonderful problem solvers and get caught in having to deal with a new episode of a crisis that demands our attention but which our structure does not allow us to solve. It is even difficult to find a way to help find a solution. The folks caught in the most serious part of the crisis need a denominational response – or help – or even just understanding. We don’t feel we can ignore the crisis but it’s frustrating to devote so much time and energy on reaction. These gifted problem solvers get caught in a bureaucratic or theological tangle -- the very thing they are usually the best at resolving, and when they can’t get it untangled, they are really not happy.
If we can talk about this reactive mode, if we can understand it, we might begin to get a handle on how to become a more healthy community of faith