The horror in Charleston last week was so up-close and personal, it may be too soon to bring a word of perspective about it. Nevertheless, the media chatter about guns, rights, and racial injustice kicked-in right on que. With one important difference. In the midst of this crowd of satellite trucks, the rhetoric has been tempered by the influence of strong local leadership.
The New York Times has tied the church to its history of leadership in the Civil Right Movement, but it failed to notice ties to a more historic leadership movement in these two key decisions:
The first is a decision to forgive.
Human nature reacts to this call. Instinct would vent anger and spread blame. Some famous psychologists even suggest rage is a required stage of healing. We tend to distrust a gracious response as forced or premature. This community, including immediate members of families who lost loved-ones, stepped up and set a tone of grace and truth.
The second is a decision to draw a line.
Keeping Al Sharpton and other opportunists from getting involved with divisive messages is an uncomfortable but necessary part of leadership. It’s the truth side of gracious leadership. Naivety would have us stand FOR without clarifying boundaries and naming what we are against.
Naming the negative is not the same as going negative. Going negative it’s addicting. It feeds a craving for superiority and brings a false sense of accomplishment. Drawing the line against celebrity “leaders” whose careers, egos, and power have been fueled by hatred sets limits on negativity.
When coupled with the call to forgive, it’s an influential means of “fighting the dragon, without becoming the dragon.”
Consider the following two responses.
A) Write a note of encouragement.
Letters can be mailed to the church 110 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401
B) Pause in front of a bigger picture.
On a normal day we tend to discount the weight of these seven truths…
1. Life is a daily gift.
2. There are no little people or places.
3. Every person matters.
4. Ultimately, right and wrong are not a matter of personal taste.
5. Crisis elevates great people and genuine compassion.
6. In grief, you lose fellowship but not relationship.
7. Americans still have plenty of common ground.
- Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
- Man never Is, but always To be blest:
- The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
- Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
- – Alexander Pope
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21