Thursday, March 12, 2015

Somebody Needs to Do Something

Have you ever seen or heard of something happening that made you think, ”Somebody really needs to do something about that”? Maybe it was a situation in your child’s school, or a problem in your neighborhood. Perhaps it was a broader issue in your community.

Then there are the many, sometimes insidious dilemmas confronting our world today: Poverty. Terrorism. World hunger. Disease. Violence. Neglected children. Political corruption. Disasters. Unethical business leaders. Educational inequities. Domestic abuse. People with disabilities.

No doubt you could add to this list. Many mornings I get out of bed thinking things are going fairly well, but then I listen to the news and realize the world is even worse than the day before. It seems overwhelming. What are we to do?

Wikipedia's image of "The Scream,"
by artist Edvard Munch, shows one
common response to society's ills.
Well, there’s always hand-wringing. There’s a lot of that going on – wring, wring, wring. And gnashing of teeth. Dentists really like it when we do that. We could all hold our hands to our faces and shriek, like the image in “The Scream,” a series of paintings by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch from the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. Shrieking helps, doesn’t it?

Or, and here’s a novel thought, we could try to do something about the problems that concern us most. How about writing a letter to the editor? That might have some value, or a post on Facebook or Twitter could alert some folks. And we can send financial contributions to support organizations and causes dear to our hearts. But those are hands-off, detached approaches – no rolling up our sleeves, getting our hands dirty, or becoming personally involved.

What if we actually made an effort to become directly engaged in addressing some of these troubles?

Recently I was reminded of a declaration that should inspire each of us: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Or as some observers have suggested, we’re either part of the solution, or we’re part of the problem.

But as we’ve already noted, the problems – local, national and global – are ubiquitous. There’s no escaping them. What can one person do? Here’s a simple truth: Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something. Since each of us is a somebody, we all can and should do something.

Okay, but what? Look at the statement again: Be the change you wish to see in the world. What change would you like to see? If you’re concerned about children growing up in disadvantaged homes, lacking sufficient parental guidance, you could become a mentor investing in some of their lives one on one. You could become a tutor, helping young people with a subject you enjoy, whether it’s math, science, or even English as a second language.

You could volunteer in a myriad other ways, ranging from participating in a local soup kitchen or food bank to working at a crisis counseling center to visiting with shut-ins, people in hospitals or nursing homes. You could give time to one of the local schools; there are many ways to do so.

Are you fed up with politics, as many of us are, convinced we’re suffering from a vacuum of dedicated, selfless leaders? Maybe you could run for office and become one of those striving to fill this void. Or you can identify a candidate you really believe in and give time and energy to helping him or her get into office. Ideas like these are just scratching the surface.

Then there are spiritual needs. If you believe, as I do, that solving life’s greatest problems ultimately is the result of lives transformed by Jesus Christ, you can start investing in others to help them grow spiritually – and find yourself growing as well. As 2 Timothy 3:17 tells us, the purpose of the Scriptures is “so that the man (and woman) of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The bottom line is simple: If it were up to you, what changes would you like to help bring about in the world? What problems or issues weigh heavily on your heart? Once you’ve figured that out, all you have to do is consider what you could do personally to engage in being part of the change you wish to see.

This is our privilege. But it’s also our obligation, a responsibility we’re given by God. James 4:17 teaches, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.” A sobering admonition.

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