Proverbs 24:19-20 (English Standard Version)
“Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”
For many, it seems we are living in times of ever growing darkness. We turn on the television and see our nation’s leaders, and company executives, and our institutions being ruled by greed, with divisiveness, and disregard for the common good and decency and with an utter lack of humanity. We see oil companies more determined to harvest oil and profit than to preserve clean drinking water and our natural resources. We see companies that seek to exploit our environment for financial gain. We see people in poverty while working at least 40 hours a week, barely making a living wage. We see many stories that tear at our souls and hearts of people suffering and struggling.
We are bombarded with messages of hopelessness and pessimism. We are assaulted by warnings laced with bigotry, racism, and unfounded fear. We look for sensible, compassionate, honest, and sincere leadership but find these voices too few in number. There are protests and activists marching, declaring that they are fed up with the corruption, greed, fear-mongering, and bigotry. We see social movements gathering and struggling to have their voices heard and their needs met legislatively and judicially.
People are having their hope and faith tested on a daily basis and they wonder when relief and justice and prosperity will return. When will prayers be answered?
In some sense, God has answered some of our prayers already. He has given us the capacity to answer hate with love, respond to greed with generosity, and the ability to turn fear into courage. God has granted us hearts and minds and we need to continue to use them efficiently and sufficiently. We need to feel… we need to think about how our fellow citizens feel. We need to develop empathy for one another and start caring about each other as well as we care about ourselves.
We need to focus on what is good in each of us rather than spend so much of our time, energy, and effort poking at the flaws, the bad, or what we suspect is wrong. If we consider the potential good in each other and nurture that and support that, then we might actually get somewhere where we uplift rather than tear down.
If we raise awareness to corruption and greed and evil– I feel we would only be doing ourselves half a service. It’s one thing to point fingers and instill shame and guilt and how wrongdoers to account for their actions– but then what do we do to rehabilitate souls, encourage new attitudes, and build up someone who has learned the errors or their ways? We can tear down evil and greed and corruption– we are very good at tearing things down and tearing people apart apparently– but what then? After we have deconstructed the mechanics of evil and greed, what then?
We must learn to build up the good in others. We must set an example for others. We need to really focus on what is good, compassionate, kind, gentle, and empathic. We have an example in Jesus. We have His gospels. That’s where we start. And from there, we learn to forgive and learn to nurture.