I’ve spent seven of the past fifteen days in Uvalde and DelRio, Texas. In that time, I have learned so much about the incredible people of Uvalde and America, the Beautiful. Some of what I have learned has shaken me to the core. But, on the other hand, some of what I have learned reminds me of what I most likely already knew.
Beyond the lessons learned, this I know. The evil that transpired at Robb Elementary School is a tangible, grizzly reminder that we live in a desperately broken world. That broken world needs healing, hope, and direction. Given the present, recent and hopeful candidates slated or proven, we are in dire straights.
That isn’t to say that the folks in power and those that desire to be in control are incompetent – well, maybe a bit incompetent – but instead, they have their eyes on the wrong target. The political powers that be are so consumed with the lust for power, vengeance, and fame that serving the people of America has gone awash in a sea full of bull.
I’ll keep saying it. We have plenty of competent people and leaders in these United States, but until we break this stalemate of a two-party system, we will get more of what we have tolerated over the past thirty years. Partisan bickering, name-calling, stagnation, and foolishness. All the while, evil runs rampant in this great land’s cities, towns, and countrysides.
The lessons I have learned while in Uvalde are simple. But should we apply them, with a heavy dose of common sense, America can right the ship.
Stop Pointing Fingers and choose to correct the problems. Maybe you are a finger pointer. I once was. It’s so stinking easy to waste sideways energy on blaming others. I know we should hold one another accountable, but most of us must choose to fix problems rather than blame. In Uvalde, those families and the schools, hospitals, law enforcement, and churches don’t need one more person or group fixing blame. They are hurting emotionally, mentally, physically, and exhausted from the desperate trauma thrust upon them due to evil. So if you want to help save this great land, get off the blame train and get on the serving others express line. It’s interesting how many people told me that there was very little that could be done in Uvalde. That has not been my experience at all. They have been open and forthright about their needs when I have asked educators, law enforcement, city employees, and other locals. Maybe we need to stop assuming that we know what everyone needs and start asking how we should help.
LESSON NUMBER ONE IS:
SET YOUR PRIDE AND ASSUMPTIONS DOWN AND ASK, THEN LISTEN. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.
You name the culture, and I’ll show you that we all have the same basic desires. You pick the color: Black, Brown, White, and I’ll show you our commonalities. We have far more significant similarities than we have differences. The challenge is that we seem to focus on the differences. Most of the community I’ve been serving in Uvalde are Brown folks. They are hard-working Americans with the same desires I have in my hometown. They want peace in their town. They want jobs to provide for their families. They want a fair justice system. These folks want what we all want. They want kind neighbors, honest law enforcement, caring churches, and leaders who put others first. They want safety at their kid’s schools and an opportunity to succeed. All of these things are what America has been built upon. But greed, corruption, and arrogant, self-righteous leaders on both sides of the aisle have depleted us of these most precious commodities. So pick your vote carefully, and be willing to be part of the solution.
LESSON NUMBER TWO IS:
RECOGNIZE WHAT YOU DESIRE MOST IN THIS LIFE, THEN STRIVE TO BRING THAT GOOD TO THE WORLD. EVERY SINGLE HUMAN CAN ADD TO THE GOOD OR THE EVIL. Which will it be for you?
This one is at the core of the American Dream. It doesn’t take much to help. It just takes all of us doing our part of the job. Civil service, ministry, education, business, or politics. Each day, you can choose to do at least one thing to make your part of the world better. Not your version of the world, but our version of a better world. The common good, the greater good, whatever you call it. But lay your head on the pillow each night, knowing that you have done your part of our job.
LESSON NUMBER THREE IS SIMPLE:
DO YOUR PART OF OUR JOB AND MAKE YOUR PART OF THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.
You all are already checking out on me. I seem to know this truth as I write these words. So hang in there; this is the good part. Lesson four is something tangible. Do good where it is needed. The Bible teaches that we are a blessed people; better translated, we are happy people when we act and react more like Jesus.
In Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew chapter 5, we find that He starts with the “Beatitudes.” In other words, Jesus is teaching us His attitudes – How we are to be. In verses 3-9 in Matthew 5, we read the following from “The Message.”
Matthew 5:3-9 MSG
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and his rule.”
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s when you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart— put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of competing or fighting. That’s when you discover who you really are and your place in God’s family.”
When you replace the word “blessed” with “happy,” you’re getting close to understanding how to be part of the right solution, serving others, doing our part, and choosing good over evil.