When my daughter Brittany was about five years old, she had a friend named Blake. One week, when the offering was being collected in the children’s class in church, Brittany realized Blake couldn’t find his offering. Not wanting Blake to be left out, Brittany took her dollar bill, tore it in half, and handed one half to Blake. There! Problem solved!
In the early Nineties, Unitarian minister Robert Fulghum wrote a little book titled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In it, Fulghum offers his credo for life which originated in his early school years. His list includes:
Don’t hit people
Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone
When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together
Though not stated in so many words, there is a theme that could be drawn from his list: Kindness and Inclusion. A casual reading of the local newspaper causes one to question whether these attributes continue to be valued. An unbridled lust for power and position, displaying itself in anger, disrespect and deceit, appears to have won the day.
Another shooting this week—another gunman’s senseless violent act and the loss of innocent lives. While something this tragic would have caused people to come together in solidarity in the past, in our current day, even this horrible event becomes a vehicle to inflame and argue—to draw lines and take sides.
Racism, for years considered a scar of the past, is again openly practiced, embraced, and justified. Equality for all regardless of race, religion, sexual identity, or political persuasion is at risk in a country founded on the principle of freedom.
"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:1
Clearly, Christians are called to behave better than this. Unfortunately, the world isn’t seeing a drastic difference in the behavior of those professing Christ as opposed to those who don’t.
"In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:16
I wish I had an easy answer to what is troubling us today—the insecurity that causes us to fear others, to marginalize those unlike ourselves. What do we lose by being civil, by thinking of others greater than ourselves?
By tearing her dollar in half, Brittany offered her friend inclusion, but it was only by bringing what was torn apart together that value was restored. Might each one of us begin to take what is being torn apart and, by speaking and acting with kindness and inclusion, restore what is most valuable?
I would like to think so.