Thought for the Week
July 9, 2020
Scriptures to Read:
St. Luke 6:27-31
St. Luke 3:10-14
St. Luke 10:30-37
St. Matthew 5:43-48
St. Matthew 7:15-23
We celebrated a national holiday on July 4. We call it "Independence Day." It has a lot of meaning. My dictionary gives 11 definitions for the word. There is one that gives me pause to think: "without restraint." My dad had his own definition for freedom. He said, "The freedom to swing my fist ends where your nose begins." I like my dad's definition better. Our nation has gone through some very challenging times throughout its history. Some of those challenging times have actually made us stronger and perhaps even better. But we have not handled some of those times well.
I am thinking specifically about some of the protests that have taken on form as riots. Some of these start out peacefully as marches or demonstrations of support for a cause or proposed goal. So far that's fine. But sometimes these peaceful beginnings get high-jacked by people with other goals and purposes.
A few weeks ago a man was killed by police officers who were apprehending him. I most certainly do not have enough information about the incident to make a judgment. But as time moved on, protests began. One of the stated support thoughts was, "Black Lives Matter." Of course they do. Every life matters. I am a firm believer in the "Sanctity of Life," from conception to the casket. Every life ought to be treated with respect. What happened during the ensuing riots does not demonstrate respect. Throwing a brick at a policeman is not respect. Burning a store is not showing respect for the people who put time, energy, finance, into ownership of the store. Looting a store is not showing respect either. Organizers of peaceful protest put themselves at risk and make themselves liable for what happens even if they have no intent to disrespect or to do harm.
You have likely heard the expression, "No pain, No gain." That seems understandable at first glance. But if my gain depends on causing you pain, it is ill-gotten gain. If I am willing to absorb pain to myself for either personal gain or the gain of others, there is something to be positively said for pain. Many of the founders of the American Revolution paid a very high price to gain the independence they sought. Looking back at that, we can perhaps understand what happened and why. Even following some present-day riots, there were peaceful protest marches. They were careful not to do harm to the persons or property of anyone. Were they successful? Again, only time will reveal the full story.
I think it is a good idea to examine authority to find who is worthy of exerting it. If there are persons who abuse the authority at their disposal it should be taken from them. For those who have a legitimate protest that turns into riot, they should be the first to denounce the violence and to attempt to bring accountability upon those who riot. As long as we live in this "Fallen World" there will be inequality, and wrong-doing. Each of us ought to face up to wrong and reject it. Each of us ought to attempt to make right the wrongs that are done. Perhaps we cannot accomplish as much as we hope. Certainly there will be no true peace until the Prince of Peace begins His rule upon the earth.
All of us should remind ourselves we must one day stand before the "Judge of all the earth" and give an accounting for how we have lived and how we have treated others. Two wrongs will not make a right. Doing harm can not bring about good. God's "Golden Rule" will always be valid: "As you want people to treat you, so you should treat people." It may not solve all problems but will go a long way.