Faces on Faith: One small stone
Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone and I remain ever hopeful that all the loving cards and notes sent to those we love might also trigger in our hearts the care and compassion needed by so many others – in our local community and in our global village. I say this because the ads for the past few weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day were replete with such contrasting images. Photographs placed side-by-side – yet worlds apart. Luxury versus poverty. Opulence versus deprivation.
Did you notice the advertisement for diamond earrings for $5,000 on the same page as the photograph of frail, hungry women in an unnamed village? How about the Dream of a Lifetime trip just opposite the image of a war-torn town and a weeping man? What probably pushed my patience the most was the article debating whether the poor or the poorest should reap the benefits of micro-credit efforts. How easy it is for us in our comfortable life styles to quibble and debate who is more worthy of assistance. When all stomachs are empty, when lives are raw, who is to say, “Who is hungrier?”
Of course, there are many people around the globe who are deeply concerned about the inequities in the world – and do do something about it to actively seek resolutions – especially for those working so hard to escape the tragic cycle of poverty, or those captive to repressive governments and inhumane treatment. Those compassionate efforts are the hopeful part of the human story. There are also people who become overwhelmed by the breadth of poverty and deprivation – I know that I can get into that place quite easily at times. And there are those too who feel emotionally paralyze by the enormity of it all and thus cannot even step forward with some simple task.
Edmund Burke always encouraged people when they felt overwhelmed with life or a particular stressful situation or event, “The greatest mistake is to do nothing, because realistically we can each only do a little bit.” Simple words but profound, aren’t they? It is the “little bits” that count – especially when we’re saddened that we cannot be a Mother Teresa or a billionaire able to place monies to build wells or resolve a third-world uncontrollable disease. It’s the “little bits” we do that can sometimes send a small yet powerful shock wave of constructive, hopeful energy through one family, one community, a country or indeed our planet. Whether our “little bit” is feeding someone at CCMI’s Everyday Cafe, speaking out for justice for the Immokalee workers, saving the environment by using paper straws, or offering a hand to someone who is working to pay bills but has been laid off due to unforeseen circumstances.
We just need to be reminded that all our “little bits” do send positive shock waves – just like the old story of the stone thrown into the pond. As we prepare for the season of Lent that begins on March 6 this year, instead of denying yourself chocolate or some other delight, why not resolve to model more hope, have fewer complaints about the traffic in season, and place more focus on doing some “little bit” for the good of humanity. Let’s walk forward together, send out positive, synergistic shock waves and transform the world, my friends – bit by bit.
The Rev. Dr. Ellen M. Sloan is the rector at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.