Faces on Faith: An antidote for what ails us
It is easy to be discouraged. The morning paper and the evening news are filled with stories, which so easily could lead us into despair hit and runs, acts of random violence, acts of intentional violence, moments of road rage, wars and skirmishes of all kinds, weather related catastrophes, and, on top of all that, a political campaign, which has fallen victim to the basest instincts of the human person. At times, selfishness, greed, anger, revenge, intolerance appear to have the upper hand. What’s a person to do?
One could respond in kind, fight fire with fire, so that angry outbursts are met with angry outbursts, acts of injustice are met with senseless violence, and insults generate louder insults that drown out the calming voices of reason. While behaving in this way is an option, it is not the best option, and it will never change the situation for the better.
It is rather easy to identify the problems that afflict us as a world, as a nation, and as a community. It is a little more difficult to find solutions to those problems, precisely because we fail to look for those solutions in the right place. As Michael Jackson so eloquently stated years ago, “if we wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” We need to start with the person in the mirror! We have all, as Jackson stated, “been a victim of a selfish kind of love.” We see ourselves as the center of the universe, but we seldom see ourselves as the cause of those problems that afflict the world.
If there is too much anger in the world in which we live, then let us not add to that anger by being angry. If there is too much violence in the world in which we live, then let’s not be violent, in words or deeds. Let’s counter selfishness with generosity, impatience with patience, vulgarity with civility, recklessness with responsibility, bigotry with inclusion, violence with love. Let kindness and compassion mark our every move, and if we are to have disagreements, let us not allow them to make us disagreeable. Let’s not see ourselves at the center of our personal universe, but rather let us see ourselves as part of a bigger world, filled with people who are brothers and sisters, not foreigners or strangers.
It is within our power to truly make the world a better place, starting with one person at a time.
Jack Layton, was a respected Canadian politician who was the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada. Shortly before he was to die of cancer, he gave these words of encouragement to his beloved country, words that can clearly be taken to heart when we are tempted to be discouraged by the world around us: “Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.”
Simply stated, the antidote for all that ails us is contained in the two-pronged single commandment of that preacher from Nazareth, “Love God and your neighbor.”
-Christopher Senk, pastor of St. Isabel Church