Thanks for posting this. There was about 4,000 people live for this one, and 173,000 views on facebook now, so the biggest event this last year for me.
This is a transcript of my comments to college students as they go back to campus in the fall of 2020.
It’s 2020 and I’m here to talk about what it means to go back to college, to the university, to dorms, to classes, to friends, away from your family, in the time of COVID. In a time where we don’t really know what the future holds.
My name is Joshua Swamidass. I’m a scientist, a physician, and a professor here at Washington University in St Louis.
One of the core teachings of the Christian faith is that the world is fallen. That means when we look at the world that we have, the world around us, the one that our ancestors gave us, the one they set up and the society they gave us…that world is not the best world possible.
It could have been better.
It could have been a just world.
It could have been a fair world.
It could have been a society where racism didn’t exist, where we didn’t hoard things in the way we do, where where we actually treated each one as if we were one family, because we are one family.
Frankly, even biologists like me know that if you go back a few thousand years, we all share common ancestors anyways. We’re all part of the same family the same race the human race.
So what happened? Where did things go wrong? Well it’s hard to entangle that sometimes. It’s a mess.
We’re in a time of disruption. And times of disruption are important, because when things are disrupted, the things have been ossified, calcified, fossilized, and stuck in a particular way, these things can change. We start to see that together in a new way and we know that the world is that we were handed…well maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. Maybe we can change it.
This may be the most important year of your education. It’s a time where you get to think together with others, to work out together what that better world could be like, and what it would take to get there.
Don’t be surprised that it is going to require some sacrifices.
It is going to be costly but it’s worth it because some things are worth the cost. Some things are worth having some disruption of your life, to take a hold of something better for yourself. But not just for yourself, but for your family. But not just for your family, but for all of us.
We have an opportunity to look at what we’ve been given. Decide if it is enough. And realize together that it’s not. It’s a fallen world. We want something better.
Martin Luther King, maybe just a bit over 50 years ago, he marched and he talked about the kingdom of God. He prayed Jesus’s prayer, that God’s kingdom, heaven, would be here on earth in the same way that it’s in heaven, that His Will would be done in both places.
God’s world, heaven, His kingdom, is a just world.
Our world is not just.
Here in St Louis, It’s segregated. We still live like we’re separate families, with a black neighborhood and a white neighborhood.
I’ve talked to a lot of people of a lot of different persuasions. Different types of christians and non-christians. No one imagines heaven as a segregated city. Yet that’s what we have here in St Louis.
In St Louis, in our segregated world, it’s legal to integrate yet we don’t. In our world, where things are just broken, and they’re not supposed to be this way…we have an opportunity to to invite something better…to long for it, to beg for it, to cry for it, to mourn for it, knowing that there really is that better way.
Let’s go pursue it together, knowing that God doesn’t just want us to long for heaven, He wants us to long for heaven on earth.