By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
This is a column about pain and – spoiler alert – I’m not a physician, surgeon, pharmacist, hypnotist or preacher. Just a man with a message for our times.
This is serious. People are suffering. Emotions range from frustration, to anger, to fear. The struggle is real. There are people wrestling with this period like nothing they have ever experienced.
Church people leave stirring sermons of encouragement girded up for whatever the world brings. But for many of the faithful these days, it is something like the proverbial Asian dinner, you are full after consuming it but hungry again a half hour later.
The measure of trepidation people feel directly correlates to their condition, of course. That two-income family with a quarter million dollar home in the “burbs” may be less startled by issues of the day than a single mother with three children barely surpassing minimum wage.
To be certain, there were people going through rough times when Mr. Obama was in the White House, and Clinton, and both Bushes, and Reagan and beyond. America has never been Utopia where people of color and the financially challenged are concerned. What’s new is the misery of suffering is exacerbating when those at the top – and most who represent their authority – could care less. The fact that a person is wounded isn’t nearly as troubling as the lack of a bandage, antiseptic, or prescription to ease, if not alleviate the pain.
Too many so-called “evangelicals” delight in selective Bible reading, quoting verses that fit their political agenda while meticulously ignoring that which would inspire more involvement with the poor and downtrodden. People should deem it painful to see men and women of God embrace tyranny.
A true walk within the Word commands so much more. Self-pious deportment does not substantiate service to God. Citizenship is a verb, not a noun. Or as Bishop Lambert W. Gates Sr., presiding Bishop of the PCAF, said last week, too many people want “scripture without structure…they want benefits without the job.”
There is no panacea, no silver bullet, no single solution. But no degrees or qualifications are required to confirm that if we sit back and do nothing, things will get worse. Though suffering of the righteous is redemptive, it makes it no less painful.
In truth, pain is often a prerequisite for moving to the next level of your purpose, your assignment – growing pains, if you will. Consider the miracle of life that is the aftermath of labor pains. Life pain often births new levels of self-esteem, awareness, resolve, focus, resilience, determination, independence, direction and strength.
When it comes to social ills, remember that life goes in cycles, or – as the saints of old would say – “trouble don’t last always.” Don’t jump ship before it reaches safe harbor.
It doesn’t matter how slow or methodical the progress, when you are moving in the right direction, you eventually reach a destination. Three things are required for change. Call it the SAFE concept and embrace it in good times and bad—without fear or apprehension, without impatience.
- Sacrifice. Shed fear of the unknown and leave that comfort zone. Give what is most valuable to you, most often. Scripture says it will come back to you.
- Activism. Whether in your neighborhood, workplace, organization, church or everyday comings and goings – speak up, speak out and get, no STAY involved.
- Faith. Realize that while the battle is not yours, the work is. Believe that it’s already done, that the victory is won, that your enemy will become your footstool.
- Empathy. No matter how many acts of inhumanity occur, or to whom, or the severity, never stop caring. Never become numb to the suffering and injustices of others. Never accept wrongdoing as the new normal.
That’s it. SAFE is just a reiteration of what you already know. No earth shattering revelation from Mount Sinai. SAFE is just a small thought submitted for your consideration during troubled times. Small, like a mustard seed.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.