It’s summer so it must be the season of parades, bands, counter demonstrations, and rubbish left in the streets afterwards. Politicians, community workers and Orangemen continue the age-old but ever-new battle that has become an expression of our co-dependency and is an addiction we would find hard to break even if we wanted to. We are adept at lobbing (it’s summer so that means it’s Wimbledon too) new balls into play and we can’t help but play those set up by the other.
It’s in our DNA, we could say, to justify the importance we attach to flags and tunes, or don’t want to attach to flags and tunes, as the case may be. It’s who we are and therefore we’ve got to take a stand, protect our culture and our heritage, defend our right to walk, or our right not to have you walk near us.
But IS it in our DNA?
Summer is also the season when the natural world, in those parts of the world that have distinct seasons, is most full of life. Trees are intensely green, literally humming with life, and yet offering cooling shade to contrast with, and, illogically, protect against, the strength of the sun. Insects are at their most annoying in their abundance and activity. Birds flood the air with their song, well some do anyway! Plants complete their cycle with flowering and fruiting.
All of this happens because it’s summer, and because it’s in their DNA. What’s in their DNA is expressed in response to the environment. The environment provides the resources, the wherewithal, and also regulates what happens and when it happens.
It’s the same for what we do in summer. Our history, our culture provides the resources that fuel our activity. They also give direction to the ensuing events which follow a predictable choreography according to the calendar.
But is THIS in our DNA?
Does conflict, violent or non-violent, have to happen?
It all depends on where we choose to start the story. Often we come in part-way through the story, beginning with what’s wrong – we’re sinful and so Jesus had to come to sort us all out. (He came to sort everything out, not just us.) And certainly violence between brothers, never mind violence from and/or towards strangers whom we don’t know, came along very soon after the Fall. So it almost seems inherent and integral to being human. But this is not the beginning.
We often look at Genesis 1 and ponder why there is death in what God called a ‘good’ creation. In Genesis 2 we seek to find solutions for how men and women are to relate. Both Genesis 1 and 2, though, deal with our DNA and its expression as who we are meant to be. DNA is essentially the deep pattern within us, within all plants, animals and living organisms, that is expressed in concert with the environment and is outworked, performed, in the individuals we are and the society and civilisation we create. In Genesis 1 and 2 we see the wholeness, the vitality, the intensity and the richness of relationships that are our real DNA that God intended for humanity. These relationships arise out of us being both created creatures and image-bearers entrusted to actually create new relationships with each other and with the natural world. In Genesis 3 we see how the DNA is meant to be expressed in our relationship with God where He expects to meet His friends as He comes walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
So expressing our DNA naturally could be envisaged as ‘fruitful harmony’. ‘Fruitful’ indicating progressive and productive activity. ‘Harmony’ indicating complementary and augmented engagement. One such endeavour could be to explore using other metaphors to help us grasp the rich diversity of how we are to express our DNA.
We have done and do express our DNA in phenomenally diverse technological and material, artistic and scientific, social and political abundance across the stretch of human history and contemporary civilisation. But we also need to be honest that we have messed up and do mess up big time. It is only with humility and with accepting all the help that God has provided in Jesus and provides through His Spirit that we can hope to fully be as individuals and as society what it’s in our DNA.