"It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.
Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.
No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.
Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.
"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."
Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.
Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.
Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.
For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.
This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.
I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.
We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.
Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.
We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.
Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.
But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again."
I heard this quote from Bobby Kennedy tonight and it's one of the most life giving and motivating things I have ever heard. (I know it's long, but it's totally worth reading if you haven't heard it before.)
I'm reading Brennen Mannings book "Souvenirs of Solitude". He quotes someone in the book and says that we must learn to trust the Lord in our suffering...not this "PollyAnna optimism"B.S., but seriously and serenely trusting.
" Our hope, our acceptance to the Lords invitation is not based on the idea that we are going to be free of pain and suffering. Rather, it is based on the firm conviction that we will triumph over suffering...this is not the kind of hope that yields to discouragement, defeat, and frustration. On the contrary, Christian hope stands firm and serene, confident even in the face of the Holocaust, even in the face of terminal cancer. However serious we believe Good Friday is, we are confident that Easter Sunday lies ahead of us. What if we die? Jesus died too; and if Jesus died, we believe that now He lives and we shall live too."
What did it look like to trust the Lord and his goodness while staring the Holocaust in the face? What does it look like to trust the Lord while being a hostage of the sex trafficking industry?
When I think of things that are so large scale (The Holocaust, Sex Slavery etc) my petty troubles seem so very insignificant. But for many people, life is not full of Holocausts and literal slavery BUT our seemingly trivial in comparison sufferings do matter. It may be a death in the family, it may be a broken heart, a really hard friendship, a divorce, emotional confusion etc.... I'm learning that the Lord doesn't look at my hurts and troubles and say "Gah.. suck it up Caroline... you have it easy". Anything that hurts my heart hurts his, anything that makes me cry makes him well up with the urge to comfort me. Yes, I should be thankful for the mercies and grace that I am given and don't deserve but it doesn't mean that I shouldn't feel how I feel and be real and honest about what hurts, what sucks, what makes me sad etc. How awesome that we have the freedom to feel how we feel. How awesome that our God is trustworthy and that he cares about people that the world calls insignificant.
Lately I have been learning a lot about working to fills needs vs meeting needs only when the Spirit directs me. Someone brought to my attention a few weeks ago that when Jesus walked the earth he did not heal every sick person. Jesus did not feed every hungry human, he did not meet every need. I find my self so quickly agreeing to anything and everything that is asked of me only to be dissatisfied, burned out, and spent. It began to occur to me that even if something is good and needs to be done, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's my job to do it. When I attempt to meet a need that is not mine to meet I am stealing the opportunity for someone who IS called to use their gifts to glorify the Lord. I can't be in every Bible study, I can't read every book, I can't pray with every friend for hours every night, I can't be on every team or join every volunteer group. I am trying to learn how to distinguish between the "want to" and the spirit's promptings. I don't think I have a problem saying no when I don't want to do something but I do have a problem saying no when I want to do it all.
"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchmen stays awake in vain."
I don't want to build houses that the Lord isn't building with me. I don't want to labor in vain. I want to do things that matter, things that I am called to do. I can build one hundred churches, feed one thousand people, and cure cancer but if the Lord does not lead me to do it then it's all meaningless in the end.