In Which We Stop Being Afraid and Start Taking Action

o-MISTER-ROGERS-HELPERS-QUOTE-570There’s a scene in Season 5 of Mad Men when an inconsequential character laments her parents might not let her go to college because of the race riots. Her job is to date the episode and give context to the characters’ actions. I found her jarring. I kept thinking, “What sort of parents would deny their child college?”

Please ignore the construction sounds in the background, I’ve hired workers to build an ivory tower to lock away my kid until he’s 50. Not exactly, Charlie says we can’t afford ivory. But that’s the temptation I feel sometimes. I guess some part of me is that sort of parent.

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Explosions at the Boston Marathon. That’s the latest in the series of events that don’t seem to stop traumatizing us. None of it makes sense. The authorities will investigate. They will find who did it. There will be reasons. We will never know why.

Frodo: I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

J.R.R. Tolkien was on to something when he wrote the Lord of the Rings trilogy. None of this wanted this violence in our lifetime. But it’s here.

Blame isn’t going to do us any good. Hysterics are fruitless. So what do we do with the time that’s been given to us? May I suggest, as so many others greater than me have, that we love each other?

I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. …and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Neither Dr. King nor I mean love in the emotional way, although that’s perfectly nice. We mean love in the verb tense. Do.Something. Anything.

For instance, my friend Jerusalem found out through missionary friends about a woman who lives in extreme poverty and needed $500 to build a house. Seriously, $500 is all that stood between Gogo and a safe place to live. So she raised the money to build Gogo a house.

My friends from college just finished a 20-week mail delivery drop for our dear friend who is going through chemo to treat her breast cancer.

There is quite literally no end to the need around us. Just look and listen. You’ll know what to do.

You might be thinking that this is just precious advice. But this doesn’t change or fix what’s happening. To some extent, you’re right: we cannot unblast any bombs or unshoot any guns.

But somewhere, there’s a kid who can’t read in his public school. He gets picked on. He is belittled. His home is not good. He could get a tutor, a businessman in the community who gives up his lunch hour once a week to come help out. He could learn that someone cares. He could turn out ok.

Or he could remain marginalized. He could be the perfect target for a hate group to fill him up with false bravado and evil intentions. He could set off bombs in 15 years.

It’s up to us. Let’s love one another. Let’s stop being afraid and start taking action. Let’s be each others’ Great Society. 


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