As my son stands on the brink of life and death, I have begun to wonder how our world has reached this place where drugs are so prevalent that any one of our children could stand where mine does.
Heroin is more than a top story. It is an epidemic. It is affecting lives, families, communities, health care, the economy, the penal system.
In a world that is continuing to be turned upside down by politics, hate rhetoric, war, abuse and power mongering where can we find hope? How is all this negativity affecting us as individuals, a community and a nation? How is all this shaping our ability to be strong, centered, loving people?
Where can we find hope? For me, I find hope in a God who is not afraid to step in the middle of all this nastiness and say,” I am Love, choose me.”
Peter Marty, publisher of the Christian Century, wrote in his most recent column (Jan. 4, 2017) these words “Human beings have always been capable of spending as much energy on meanness and brutality as we have on kindness, beauty, and hospitality.”
Why is this? Using one’s logical mind, why would someone waste all that energy on meanness, brutality? It makes no sense and yet in our nation we have for centuries drawn lines between people who are “other” than us. Energy is spent putting down, keeping down, holding back, criticizing, basically in an essence hating people of different racial, religious, gender or sexual orientation from us.
I know that my son, a brown-skinned white guy, along with my other two children have been the recipients of hateful actions throughout their lives because of their skin color, because they are different from the “norm.” How has this hate impacted them? We will never know for sure.
What I do know is that hate and division serve no good purpose. They impact our society emotionally, physically, spiritually and politically. History has proven this over and over and over again. What I do know is that love and kindness can change a person, their success, their perception of themselves and the world. They become stronger citizens who are able to contribute to the greater good.
Isn’t that what we want, the greater good for all people? If you want the good for yourselves, it is crucial that you seek good for your neighbor.
There are two scriptures that serve as a plum line for my daily living. One is ….“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37-40). The second is “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
We live in a world now that is starved for mercy, kindness and justice. Our nation is crying out in need of love and peace. No matter what your faith background, each of us has a responsibility to stand up in the presence of hatred and division and speak the Truth.
What is that Truth? That Truth is that all of us are created equal not only in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of our nation. Let us all choose to be courageous in our efforts to show kindness and love to all people.
Rev. Deb Patterson is pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Delaware.