What does it mean to be a person of faith right now? I ponder this question anew, as our country becomes deeper and deeper enmeshed in a spiral of hateful acts and hateful rhetoric that seem to have no end. Each act and each word seems to feed off the one before it, becoming more virulent, more tragic, more unlikely that any of us will find our way out.
Yes, there are interjections of, “My thoughts and prayers are with you, with the victims, our country, our world”, and nothing is more valuable than prayer. But prayer in action is what’s needed, prayer with works, prayer that first looks inward and asks, “What change can I make that will make a difference?
Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves”. Or as Jesus put it, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not see the log in your own eye?”
What’s wrong with our world? Look in the mirror. What’s wrong with me? How am I contributing to the current situation that I find so abhorrent, so tragic? It’s the human condition, a human need to fight fire with fire. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But never has that solved anything. Never. Violence begets violence. Hate begets hate.
We mourn and grieve deeply, yes. We pray, yes. And in the process of praying, let us pray also that we are not drawn into the madness that feeds more madness, more evil, more hate like a fire-breathing dragon.
Let’s say “Stop!” to ourselves before we respond in anger to a person with political beliefs that differ from ours. Say “Stop!” before we judge someone, anyone, based on their religious beliefs. Say “Stop!” before we post inflammatory remarks on social media, a venue giving our words and feelings nothing less than a worldwide audience.
And let’s say “Yes!” to love, the only force which can cast out hate and evil and fear. Say “Yes!” to putting that love into action by writing and calling our elected officials who do have the collective power to change the world in which we live. Say “Yes!” to being open to learn from people who do not share our worldview, who do not worship, or think, or look, or live as we do.
Our world can change – one person at a time. I am the change. You are the change. Let’s do it!