So I was reading Matt Walsh’s blog this afternoon on the wake of the two journalists killed live on air, in which he talks about our problem not being guns or mental illness, but Godlessness. I wholeheartedly agree. We either don’t want to recognize evil, or we have lost our ability to recognize it.
As he was talking about the few among us who are still truly fighting in the name of morality, I stopped to think. Perhaps the problem is not that there are so few, but that for us to make the kind of progress we truly want to see is going to take some time.
I’m a person who truly worries for and about the world we live in. I have cried myself to sleep over things I have witnessed and experienced. I try to live as a disciple of Christ and put my talents to work for a better world. But I’m human. I know I have light years to go to even consider myself worthy of His love. I screw it up constantly. Just like everyone else in the world, I’m complicit in this mess.
Yet this summer in many ways has been a revelation. I have found more hope by realizing that there is truly a swell of people who want better for us all. It’s subtle. Simmering beneath the surface. But it’s there. And when you see it, you want it to grow faster and stronger. But the road is indeed long, and the change built on little things.
A few months ago, my husband and I took our girls to a local amusement park. It’s an amazing place, in the theme of the classic East Coast parks of yesterday. But it had some trials upon opening this year, as it’s not exactly located in the safest of neighborhoods. While sitting at one of those games where you shoot a water gun to make a plastic gorilla shimmy up a pole, I dropped $50 out of my purse. I would have never known.
A young black man, about 14, approached me, and without picking it up, pointed it out to me and told me he saw it fall from my bag. I’m a middle- aged white woman with two young white daughters and a husband who has worn a thick-style Duck Dynasty-type beard since Phil was still cheating on Ms. Kay. This young man, and his five friends, were the people I’ve been told to fear. They would rob me blind.
Yet this young man was returning money I never knew I lost. He could have taken it, walked away and enjoyed everything in that park on my dime. He didn’t. The sheer surprise and amazement I felt at his honesty made me realize, even though I try hard, I’m not trying hard enough. I believed the hype. He changed me. Instantly.
I pulled a $10 bill from my purse, walked up to his seat at the water gun game and handed it to him. I so wanted to reward him for doing what he did. To reinforce his behavior in front of his friends, as if I were his mother. He looked at me quizzically, and said, “Ma’am, I didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t have done.” I told him he indeed had, but it hadn’t anything to do with the money. He shook his head, and took the reward.
Later, I realized I may have unintentionally insulted him. He didn’t need a reward. He was simply a good kid. One who knew how to show people he was properly raised and proud of who he was. But me, I was so excited to have been surprised and challenged by this young person, I had to show him somehow. I wish his parents had been with him so I could tell them how beautiful their son is.
I’ve witnessed a lot of those kinds of things this summer. I watched my husband pay for dinner for an older veteran in a diner one night, without anyone but me (including the vet) knowing. I found an old friend and his wife had doubled the size of their household by opening it to three older kids who needed a family. I saw other parents refuse to allow their children to get away with bad behavior, holding them accountable for their actions. My own 10-year-old daughter just the other day, reached into her own pocket at a restaurant to donate to St. Jude. I saw my workaholic brother cancel his entire business schedule to be with his best friend when his mother passed.
People have the capacity to be Godly. There are so many other examples everyday that keep people like me, trying so hard to lead, moving ahead toward Godliness. We’re out here Matt. I hope more of us find you and show you our light soon.