“What is this world coming to?”
I heard one of my friends ask that question this morning. It’s not the first time I’ve heard it asked. In fact, I think I hear it asked every time something tragic happens at the hands of someone bent on causing harm. It’s not a new question. It’s been around for years.
It seems to me, regardless who you ask, the world is on a path of destruction. I mean, I’ve been watching film makers weave tales of a coming apocalypse my entire life. In my lifetime I’ve been warned of another ice age and later, global flooding caused by warming. Neither scenario gave mankind much hope. I’ve grown up with the threat of the coming nuclear apocalypse hanging over my head. In fact, I can’t think of any scenarios, except one, which hold out any hope for the future and even that one talks about horrific events before the calm.
Songwriters have written about it and singers in all genres have given the doomsday message voice:
“Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low plane, fine, then
Uh-oh, overflow, population, common group
But it’ll do, save yourself, serve yourself…
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine”
Readers who know my faith are probably expecting me to add to the chatter with talk of the Rapture right now when Jesus returns to spare those who follow him and usher them into an awesome new world. Nope, I’m not going there right now.
Why is it that most every culture and religion has an end of the world story? We just made it through 2012 to learn that we misread the Mayan calendar and the end is not yet. Muslims and Christians are in agreement that the world will end and no one knows when. Is it that mankind innately knows that there must be an end?
What is the world coming to? Public opinion seems to be pretty strong that “the world is going to hell in a hand-basket,” as my dad says. So what do we do? How do we live?
First, I’m not all that worried about it because my faith tells me that my God is going to take care of me. I believe it stronger than ever because of the way He has taken care of me these last two years. Like R.E.M., I feel fine.
Yes, two men, I call them “evil”, set bombs and killed innocents in Boston. Yes, one sick man entered a school and killed children not long ago. I call him “evil” too even if his mental illness caused him to be that way. Last night’s newscast here in Kissimmee paraded video after video showing selfish people doing whatever they wanted at the expense of others. When we are bombarded by evil images and headlines, we begin to think that there is no good or that evil is winning.
Please don’t believe it. I believe with all my heart that evil has already lost. I see so much good around me. I see neighbors helping neighbors, I see people putting others first and I see good overcoming evil every single day. Even when the media chooses to show the shocking, I know that behind the shocking and even in response to the shocking there is always a wave of good.
Evil verses good. What compels one man to be evil and another to be good? I think R.E.M. nailed it with “save yourself, serve yourself.” Selfishness, self-centeredness, hedonism tells me that I have the right to do whatever makes me happy, whatever I want, even if it causes discomfort to others. Good says, “save others, serve others” and finds fulfillment and purpose in lifting up its fellow man. Good thinks of others while evil thinks only of self.
On May 7, 2012 I saw good lie on a surgeon’s table and give me half of its liver so that I might live. Two weeks ago I saw good, in the midst of saying goodbye to a precious child, sign an organ donation form so that others might live. I’ve seen good put a new heart in 5 year-old Katy and I’ve seen Britt go sledding with her new liver because of good. I’ve seen a lot of good during these last two years of my transplant journey.
This week I’ve watched good race into plumes of smoke and debris to care for the injured. I’ve seen good in people banding together to help police apprehend evil. I’ve taken the advice of good Mr. Rogers’ mother who told him, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” There are so many helpers. There is so much good.
My mother taught me that good gives up its seat on the train, turns down the music if it might be bothering neighbors and turns in the jewelry mistakenly left behind in a public restroom. My father taught me that good lends a hand, volunteers, opens doors for men and women and is willing to work for the common good. My parents taught me that good does what is right even when no one is watching.
What can we do to combat the evil in our days? I heard the simple answer every time I left my parents’ presence when they told me, “be good.”
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. ‘This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Matthew 22:37-40