Righteous Not Riotous

There are so many miscommunications in the course of a normal day. Just small, trivial things and, yet, they can be so very frustrating. I don’t know how many times I have rolled my eyes or grit my teeth in aggravation. And then there are the habits of the people with whom I live – the simple, normal things that they do every day… over and over… inexhaustibly… things that can just plain annoy and irritate me to no end.

And then I wonder why people riot in the streets against real injustice…?

I in no way support or condone the recent actions of the rioters in Baltimore – they were being meaninglessly destructive, violent, and, well, stupid. There is no cause for such ridiculousness. Whatever cause they think that they were acting out for was completely lost and obliterated amongst their rioting. They were being punks and should be ashamed of their actions.

And, yet… When I am frustrated, irritated, and angry, do I not envision violence in my mind? Do I not want to hurt people with my words, slam my hand against the wall, or just break something? I hold back, I don’t do these things – like most human beings. But, there is an instinct within me, within all of us, to react violently, to wreck something when we are feeling wrecked, to basically freak out when our emotions overwhelm us. Usually, however, we don’t fall apart and descend into madness, into rash rioting, looting, arson, and assault. We may imagine that it would be a pleasurable release to throw a brick through a window or to grab and steal something that we want just because we want it – but we know better. We, if we are not mentally ill, know that that temporary release, that temporary and mad pleasure, will only lead to a mess that needs to be cleaned up, broken relationships that need to be healed, wildernesses that will need to be escaped – consequences that will demand to be met. And, so, we control ourselves, with true courage and strength, we remember who we are and we do not let ourselves disappear into chaos.

The brave person of consequence is the one who will never have to run away from the consequences of his or her actions – because that person has done nothing shameful. That person thinks before acting. Those who are peacefully protesting in Baltimore for justice and a decisive end to police brutality, those who are standing up for what is right, for positive and concrete change, appealing to human reason and compassion boldly, with no hesitation – they are heroic. For, unlike the morally and spiritually weak person, the truly strong person chooses love instead of hate, chooses building up instead of destroying, chooses correction and true justice that makes things better – instead of vengeance and violence that only makes things worse.

In my own simple life, I know that it is hope that will allow me to be the better person – the strong and brave person that I am created to be.

And from where comes this hope?

So many people are aimless and hopeless. There are far too many news stories of young people committing random acts of violence. Far too many police officers caught on camera being vicious and brutal, abusing their power to the point of killing. And there are far too many cell phone videos of groups of teenagers whooping it up as a mob of them beats up a defenseless person. What is wrong here??? What I ask is – where is the mercy?

Perhaps… Where mercy lacks, hope is already absent.

Every person on earth wants to belong – that’s because God made us and we belong to God. To belong to a mob of brutality can never satisfy that desire… for our hearts are restless until they take rest in God’s love. Lives of mere pleasure and gain are easily devastated and lost – because they are empty without the core of being, without God… for true joy can only come in fulfilling our eternally intended destiny. It seems like no one believes this anymore, even leaders in our nation don’t want to hear this kind of talk … so we need to testify.

If young people knew – and if we could all remember – that we are of divine origin, lovingly brought into being, not by creatures or happenstance, but by the Infinite Power that is the Creator of the universe entire…. If children and young adults knew – and if we could all remember – that we belong intimately to the Creator and Master of the universe, to whom we can never be lost and by whom we will never be abandoned…. If those wandering in darkness knew – and if we who have seen the light could remember – that we each have an eternal destiny that is unique and exquisitely particular for each of us as we are known by our Maker, who lovingly brings us into being for love…. If every human being knew that, no matter what happens in life, no one dies in vain – and no one lives in vain – as long as our souls remain rooted in Christ, in rightness, and, when wounded, we bind others’ wounds with love… then the hopeless would have hope, and the wayward would have direction, and the unloved would know love.

Naïve and overly optimistic? Maybe. But, how hard do you work in helping juvenile delinquents know that they are infinitely and intimately loved?

Okay, I didn’t mean to make you feel guilty with that question… well… maybe I did. But, if we, believers, don’t go out and tell people the truth, who will? I know that I need (as most of us need) to more bravely and consistently act on my beliefs – to be Christ to others and, so, bring others to Christ. And faithfully pray. We too often feel that we are powerless to change anything and we succumb to that powerlessness… and the stress of that only makes the descent into chaos worse – and more imminent. So, let’s remember our faith, our hope, our love, and let’s change the conversation.

Practical approach in my everyday life: I will think of the terrible waste that is the rioting in Baltimore whenever a small injustice – even of conversation, any kind of he said/she said – befalls me or someone that I know. When I am hurt or upset, I will think of how easy it is to descend into anger and destruction – and I will remember that I am made for more. Summoning my courage and my strength, I will remember that I am rooted in Christ and I will reflect mercifully upon the foibles of being human. I will remember God’s mercy. I will forgive myself and others. And I will overcome. I will lovingly forgive my adversaries, even the ones of a trivial moment, and I will put my energy and effort into building respectful relationships and joint works for the good of humankind, even just the work of deciding what’s for dinner – all through Christ the Lord.

May we all overcome. No matter how long it takes or how much it hurts, the truth of Life as Love will set us free.

© 2015 Christina Chase

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