It’s been hard to keep the home in my heart grounded in peace when our country is in such turmoil.
I know, many of you will remind me that ultimately, my safety is in God alone. I do acknowledge that. I know my hope is not based in this world, not even in my most cherished and valued relationships, let alone our culture or political system. But there are times when the culture and political systems are more in line with eternal realities, and during those times it’s easier to live in peace. And there are times when political systems are actively evil, when society is in turmoil and life full of danger. Think of Cambodia under Pol Pot. Hitler’s Germany.
We’ve not lived through those times in our country. Not yet. We have shared values and beliefs which supported truth and freedom. We had the rule of law to which we could all appeal. It’s been hard at times, certainly. During the fight against segregation, there were times when evil seemed to win. But ultimately we affirmed our belief that all people are created equal, and more and more we work to live out those beliefs.
Only things are changing. Lies are truth, values are upside down. It’s hard not to fear for our future, as a culture and as a nation.
But this week I’ve been reminded that even now, in the middle of our national mess, there are individuals who do what they can to live what is right. This week New Yorkers Gregory Locke and Jared Nied took responsibility and made a difference in the world by controlling what they can control – their own behavior in the world. And they remind me to hope.
Jared Nied is 36, Gregory Locke 27. They’re just regular guys, New York subway riders who got on the subway Saturday night only to be confronted with Swastikas scrawled over every window and wall of the car.
It was shocking for everyone. Mr. Locke says in his post they were all “uncomfortable and unsure what to do”.
But they didn’t just stay uncomfortable. Here’s what happened, as reported to Bromwich:
Mr. Nied had many times used a Sharpie when he had meant to use a dry-erase marker, and he knew from experience that alcohol would work to erase the graffiti.
“A light bulb went on, and I just asked, ‘Does anyone have hand sanitizer?’” he said.
Mr. Nied and several other commuters began to wipe away the graffiti, their actions captured in photographs taken by Mr. Locke, who wrote on Facebook about his experience. By late Sunday afternoon, more than 518,000 people had reacted to the post on Facebook, and the post had been shared more than 354,000 times.
They didn’t side-step responsibility by “reporting it to the authorities”, who could or would do nothing. They didn’t find a skinhead to beat up. They actively stepped up to evil where they saw it, and did what they could, here and now, to live the truth into their world.
Normal people, leading normal lives, confronting evil, and taking action. Meaningful action. Responsible action. And then going about their daily lives once again.
So maybe there’s hope for us after all. Maybe some of us are still willing to take responsibility to live with respect for others and dignity in ourselves, and to do what we can to make a positive difference. Even now, at this time in our nation, our culture.
I only hope there are enough to make a difference.