It is the simple acts of love that make a difference.
Today I felt myself coming down with a case of the “Downer on Society” blues. It is a dreadful disease that affects millions of Americans every year. As the government appears to deteriorate, morals decline, and hope in humanity flags, outbreaks of the disease become increasingly common.
So, like all responsible citizens struggling with DS syndrome, I sought out the two practical cures: social media, and coffee.
Social media only increased my DS blues. While perusing the facebook I stumbled on an article describing the effect of social media and internet porn on “hook up” culture in high schools and colleges. It was sad. I became more disappointed, knowing that I was part of the generation that is encouraging this atrocity. More so, I felt helpless to stop it. Blues one, Charlie zero. So, that route exhausted, I turned to my good friend: the coffee shop.
There is a saying that goes, “What whiskey won’t cure, there is no cure for.” Being underage, I don’t drink whiskey, but coffee. Not only is it legal for me to purchase but, coffee has other benefits as well. I don’t get hungover. I can still drive (or ride my bike as the case may be). I have more energy. And, most importantly, coffee shops provide interesting opportunities to observe people.
In line at the coffee shop I had the privilege of buying coffee for the people behind me. I ended up talking with the old couple who opened up and shared things that they do as random acts of kindness. It was uplifting to hear their stories. But, they left and my DS blues were returning. Then a group of about fifteen young ladies came into the coffee shop holding signs that read, “Free Hugs.” They walked around the store and gave hugs to anyone who wanted one. It was another kind gesture that brightened my day.
So here I sit wondering at this dichotomy. People are dumb. More so, people are capable of extreme evil. But, on the other side of the spectrum, people are capable of amazing and beautiful things. To further complicate things, people are capable of both in equal measure. We are our own plague.
I have been listening to a song recently that explains our way out. The lyric goes, “It doesn’t matter that I’ve run out of money or the economy is shot to hell. It doesn’t matter that the president is hammering on the crack in the liberty bell. It doesn’t matter that strangers are moving into your neighborhood. It doesn’t matter that people are evil ‘cause G-d is good” (if you’d like to listen I would encourage you to look up Joshua Powell and the Great Train Robbery on noisetrade. The song is “I Ran Out Of Words”).
The reality is that we live among broken people. Whether they are legitimately uncaring and hateful, simply hurt, or just calloused to it all, everyone has their own baggage to deal with. All things fall apart. But we also live in a world of redemption. We look for morals in even the most depressing stories, and we find them too. It is what makes storytelling marvelous. Stories help us see redemption in a world where it isn’t always obvious.
The apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians refrences the ultimate redemption story. He tells of Christ, saying, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” But I look around and see things falling apart. Marriages dissolve, the government is completely polarized, more teens die of suicide every day. But I believe that, somewhere, among all the garbage, hurt and terror, there’s something bigger. I am not able to tell you what G-d’s plan was in your parent’s divorce. I cannot say where the redemption is in the latest mass shooting. But I know he is still there, and I know he is still good, and I know that he holds things together. I trust in his promise because he has come through before. “It doesn’t matter that people are evil ‘cause G-d is good,” and he has cured my DS blues.
In a world filled with evil I can look up and see G-d’s redemption in the small things. Whether it is people sharing random acts of kindness, free hugs or coffee, whether it is the changing leavesand the clouds resting on the snow capped mountains, or simply strangers trading smiles as they pass on the sidewalk, G-d allows us glimpses of Heaven every day.