Standing out from the Crowd

I've had a lot to think about these last few days, as no doubt you have, too. We are all trying to make sense of things. And there are a lot of things to make sense of. Despite the focus on the terror in Paris, there have been other bombings. There has been other terror. There have been acts of violence all over the world, including the natural violence of earthquakes. There's so much, and it's all a lot to take in.

With all of this going on, there's a lot of noise. Newscasters are talking, pundits are opining, professors and professionals are explaining, regular people are wondering. Fear is in the air and coming through the airwaves, and the result is ugly. The backlash against refugees is
 so disheartening. 

There's a lot of noise on social media, too. Someone says something, and lots of people jump on it. Maybe they agree and share. Others disagree and call people out. There's a lot of noise.

I wish we could all be more gentle with one another in the wake of tragedy. I know we need to process. I need to process - and as an extrovert, I tend to process out loud. But I don't think it is helpful to monitor how others are processing and to criticize them for it. I need to monitor myself first. And God knows there's enough hurting to go around without inflicting more pain and making more noise. It doesn't leave room for grief; noise doesn't encourage true reflection, which is the path to transformation (of the self and of the world). Trashing each other, accusing each other, makes it harder to work together in the face of all this brokenness in the world.

So stand out from the crowd. Don't be part of the mob, the "madding crowd's ignoble strife."* Somewhere, somehow, God is working to bring new life out of tragedy. I need to make room in my head, my heart, my life, my world for the seeds of peace to grow, to cast out fear that makes us clench our fists instead of open our hands. And most of all, I need to develop the eyes to see God's hand at work even amid the rubble.

Only then can I advocate for the good, only then can I hope to build up and not tear down. Only then can I make a difference.

*from Thomas Gray's poem Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard