I wrote and scheduled this post BEFORE the Nice terrorist attack and BEFORE the gunning down of police officers in Baton Rouge just yesterday morning.
But how very timely-as long as we divide the world into “us” and “them” we fuel hatred and acts of violence. As long as we choose rhetoric rather than reason we encourage a mindset that believes only radical action will spur change.
As I wrote over a week ago, My Heart Hurts. And I refuse to be part of the division that will only surely result in more death and destruction.
Instead I will choose to be radically kind.
This year has been filled with divisive politics, headlines and heartbreaking reminders of the many ways people can hurt one another.
I have my own opinions and positions on various issues and sometimes they are at odds with those of my friends or acquaintances.
But I am committed to speak, write and interact with everyone I meet in kindness-respecting our differences.
Because we are all image-bearers of the One True God.
James said, “With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. Yet, with the same tongues we curse people, who were created in God’s likeness. Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen!” (James 3:9-10 GW)
Jesus answered the question, “Who is my neighbor?” with a well-known parable that shocked His audience and challenged their preconceived ideas.
As soon as I ask, “Who is my neighbor?” I am trying to draw a circle around who I should and should not be obligated to treat with kindness and love.
I’m not going to do that.
Henri Nouwen writes:
Kindness is a beautiful human attribute. When we say, “She is a kind person” or “He surely was kind to me,” we express a very warm feeling. In our competitive and often violent world, kindness is not the most frequent response. But when we encounter it we know that we are blessed. Is it possible to grow in kindness, to become a kind person? Yes, but it requires discipline. To be kind means to treat another person as your “kin,” your intimate relative. We say, “We are kin” or “He is next of kin.” To be kind is to reach out to someone as being of “kindred” spirit.
Here is the great challenge: All people, whatever their color, religion, or sex, belong to humankind and are called to be kind to one another, treating one another as brothers and sisters. There is hardly a day in our lives in which we are not called to this.
I can purpose to listen even when I disagree.