In the past year, we've seen and heard so much crazy that I've pretty much shut down writing and retreated to the creative world of Simplicity. How does one respond to a nation seemingly overrun with debauchery, discord, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, hatred, anger, fear, gossip, lies, posturing, back-stabbing, oppression, discrimination, harassment, arrogance?
I'm not sure what to do, but I've become increasingly convinced that silence isn't the answer, which is why I'm writing again.
On this morning celebrating the work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a friend living in Virginia received a KKK propaganda packet at the end of her driveway. So did all her neighbors. Hate is trying to spread.
"Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
That long list of misery in my second paragraph follows pretty closely Paul's list of fruits of the flesh in his letter to the Galatians. When people behave in these ways, they feed others this terrible fruit that poisons and pollutes and tears down relationships, families, communities, cities, states, nations.
We can't destroy those terrible things by adding more terrible things to the world.
Dr. King was ever so right about that.
When we respond to the crazy fruits of the flesh, we need to respond with fruits of the spirit. We need to grow love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When others eat of this fruit, they are nourished and built up and grow good fruit of their own to feed others. The good fruit spreads.
I have admired these fruits in the words of an immigration lawyer being interviewed on NPR.
I have admired these fruits in the voices of my bishop and pastor in the United Methodist Church.
I have admired these fruits in the hard work and leadership savvy of my friend who has miraculously revitalized our county's adult literacy program.
I have admired these fruits in the actions of my friend the CASA volunteer.
I have admired these fruits in the steady stand of peaceful counter-protesters at white-supremacist rallies.
I have admired these fruits at every Stephen Ministry meeting I attend.
These fruits are EVERYWHERE. Don't let the media fool you into believing that only fruits of the flesh are out there. Good is being done all over the place. Look for it. Listen for it. Encourage it. Be a part of it.
Dr. King asked a very important question: What are you doing for others?
This is the answer to the crazy. We don't grow the fruit to eat it ourselves but to feed others. Are you giving good fruit to those around you? Are you actively promoting kindness, gentleness, peace, goodness, love, faithfulness, and joy in all places in your life (personal, professional, public, and private)? Are you exercising patience and self-control when others around you aren't?
Or are you sitting back crossing your fingers, hoping these good things win against the hate and bigotry and belittling and division and arrogance and anger and other assorted ugliness?
Or, worse, are you trying to fight the hate with hate...and adding to the crazy?
Use your gifts, whatever they may be, to grow good fruit for others. Ask yourself how you can actively protect and help those who have less, those from other countries, those suffering addictions, those whose identities and orientations may not be the same as yours...anyone who needs a hand.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Respond to the crazy by growing love, speaking love, doing love as only you can.
I'm going to write love.
What are you going to do?