“I love his soul, but I hate what he did.” One of my mother-in-law’s favorite sayings comes to mind often as I see news reports about what I consider to be despicable acts performed by equally despicable people. Such a Christian attitude, but so hard to actually put in practice.
One particular group of people has grown very hard for me to love, even though at the core of their beliefs, we probably have more than one thing in common. When my father lived in Topeka, Kansas, he warned me about the route to take if I should ever come to visit him on a Sunday morning. “Don’t come down Fairlawn,” he’d say. “You just don’t want to see that.” He should have known that directives like this only brought out the rebellious streak in me. So, one Sunday I witnessed a group of professed Christians standing in front of a neighboring church building with terribly hateful posters. Their protest? Mainly, that this particular congregation allowed and encouraged the attendance of people the first congregation considered to be sinners. What? Sinners not allowed to attend church? Would they rather those folks had come to their own place of worship? I think not. Just as Daddy had predicted, the whole thing ruined my day.
Later, this group took their show on the road, choosing to protest at, of all places, the funerals of our nation’s heroes. I viewed this as ironic, since the person being honored, and the family members that were attending had made the ultimate sacrifice to allow these *%#$@ people the right to protest. (Oops, that was rather unprofessional of me.) Enter my new heroes, the Patriot Guard Riders. Very fittingly, this group was also founded in Kansas, in Mulvane, the town where my mother and father met and married. The whole purpose of the Patriot Guard was to position themselves in front of those folks from Topeka with their ugly chants and signs. The big flags and loud motorcycles became more than a shield; they were a symbol of courage and respect. They stood proudly in the gap where the rest of us would like to be.
The recent storms that left so many of our Central Arkansas neighbors hurting provided another opportunity to show the world what we are made of. At my former job for a major insurance company in Little Rock, the employees spent very little time wishing someone would help those who needed assistance. Instead, they found a way to do something. Some went out and actually helped clear rubble and find lost pets, others wrote checks to the Red Cross, still others brought non-perishable food, bottled water, cleaning items, trash bags. In no time, a truckload of items was ready to go. Less talk, more action gets the job done quickly.
If we venture very far out of our residences, we are bound to encounter people who don’t have a place to call home at all. There could be many reasons for this, and we could spend hours trying to determine the root causes, the disturbing trends in America that are multiplying this shameful situation. Meanwhile, those folks are tired, hungry, desperate. An organization based in Little Rock called The One, Incorporated has decided to do something. Under the leadership of one very determined young man, they are take whatever resources they have or can get donated and use them to help. Purely and simply, they give with no expectation of return, and it is making a difference. Their biggest success- helping that One person into a new start in life.
Of course, taking action has risks, and we must be sure that we are using our resources in the best way. There’s no harm in researching, finding the best way to help. We all have talents and resources that can benefit others. My suggestion- find a way to use them.
Another very energetic young man who is in the music business performs a song that inspires me. His lyrics speak about looking around and seeing all the problems in the world, and shaking his fist at heaven. Matthew West’s song “Do Something” says that when he asks God “Why don’t you do something?” the answer he receives is this, “I did. I created you.”
We live in a country with more wealth and opportunity than anywhere else in the world. While enjoying your hot dogs and snow cones and oohing and ahing over the beautiful fireworks, give just a minute of thought to sharing the gift you have with others, and then follow through. The land of the free and home of the brave will be better for it.