A practical message for this moment in time
The Bible says, and I’m paraphrasing here, faith without works is dead. You can’t get anywhere with just having faith.
Well-intentioned people have relied on good faith for far too long. We keep believing people will do the right thing, and they keep letting us down. We’ve been taught to keep hope alive, all the while failing to admit an ugly truth. Staying silent and waiting for humanity to become humane has always been bad for our health.
We hear. We sit. We watch wrong-doing. We make bad choices. We remain silent. We hope that bad situations and bad people will fix themselves. We love praying that things will just work themselves out to our benefit. And when that doesn’t happen, we are notorious for pretending things didn’t happen.
We have perfected the art of idly sitting near the edges of cliffs. We fall off. Sometimes, we even allow our brothers and sisters to fall off and die.
We’re selfish. We’re apathetic. And many of us are complicit in driving the crazy train to the sunken place we’re in right now. Faith, hope, and inaction brought us here. Only hard work will get us out of this awful place. Blaming folks gets us nowhere. What’s done is done. We didn’t get here overnight, and we will not find our way out overnight.
Having faith without doing the work to preserve our lives — dismantling old systems, repairing broken relationships, amending old ways of thinking, and preventing missteps — is dead, defunct, departed, and void. That kind of faith is noble, but without actively taking steps to preserve our life, we’ll wind up as dead as the faith that brought us here.
We’ve been slacking on the work part.
I don’t believe this is how we should go throughout life. Being reactive instead of being proactive is such a waste of invaluable resources and time that takes years from our life. Humanity can cause unspeakable suffering, and we seem to be okay with it. Humanity can also make things right when we want it to.
The way we are living is not okay, people. And it was avoidable. The way we oppress and damage each other is not cool. The hard-to-kill “isms” are scourges of our societies. You know the ones: classism, sexism, racism, heterosexism, skepticism, ageism, ableism, neoliberalism, Naziism, anti-Semitism, religious prejudice, size-ism, and other forms of oppression used to damage us and pit us against one another. I connect all the isms to oppression, inequality, and injustice.
The world is going through some tough times. A lot of our suffering is self-inflicted because of our poor choices and our selfish ways of thinking. We don’t help the poor. Instead, our leaders and culture teach us to despise “them.” America has a long, rich tradition of taking from the poor to line the pockets of the rich. And the rich are still laughing all the way to the bank as they head for the hills and their secluded homes.
We’ve allowed racism to not only divide us, but we’ve used it to create a culture of inequality that’s been handed down from generation to generation. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had better opportunities, lived a better, or the color of your skin, you’ve likely benefited from the downtrodden status of the poor to build yourselves up, and left them behind without knowing their circumstances.
We’ve made life so expensive to live that it forces parents to leave their kids home alone for hours on end. Our children are raising themselves. We’ve engaged in a brand of economics that focuses on robbing Peter to pay Paul or stealing from others to make our national ends meet, and that ain’t right. Our standards are low, and our thinking is flawed. We’ve created this life we’re living.
It doesn’t matter who or what know, how rich you are, how affluent you are, how healthy you are, your status in your community, or how much you hate, Rona — short for the coronavirus — is snatching life from us the same way we stole it from her. She’s an equal opportunity killer we can’t see. Rona is the evil we can’t seem to get away from.
Because we’re all suffering from the same crisis, we’re seeing how much more we’re alike than we are different.
We need to eat. We need soap. We need to work to pay the rent or mortgage on the first of the month. We want to see our elderly parents to give them a hug one more time, but we can’t because Rona is snatching lives like it’s nobody’s business. We’ve made a mess of things here in America, and suddenly Rona is forcing us to see the error of our evil and selfish ways.
Life is all about people, and not just the ones you know and like. Life is about all people.
But we’re not doing anything to make the change we want a reality. We keep the faith. We hope things get better. We sit and wait on better days to come. But we do little to improve our collective situation. Remember, faith without work is worthless.
That’s wrong, and that’s our problem.
For example, if you want to go to college, you can dream all you want to, but you have to take action to get yourself into it and out of it. If you want to make a baby, you literally need to make it. It doesn’t just show up on your doorstep. If you want to eat dinner, you must make it, buy it, or go get it. The food doesn’t just teleport itself into your mouth. If you want your home cleaned, you need to clean it either by paying someone or cleaning it yourself. It doesn’t just magically happen.
The same applies to the state of the nation and the world today. It didn’t just get this way—we made it this way. And if we want it to change, we have to change it.
Inequality, willful ignorance, selfishness, entitlement, greed, and hate got us here. Those were all actions. You didn’t imagine them and they happened; we made choices and took actions to make these things so. We did it to ourselves.
I’m ready to leave this nightmare. It will require action. But I’m not the only person who needs to take action to ease our individual and collective suffering. We all need to take action. We all need to do some work. Doing some work means:
Vote wisely. Take inventory of all perspectives, not just your own. We have chosen people who don’t care about the general public, and their policies show it.
Stop tolerating and engaging in racism. It breeds inequality and hate. We can trace the late response to COVID-19 back to America’s love of inequality and racism. A large swath of Americans choose hate over love and the impact of this choice is deadly.
Stop being hoodwinked by politicians. It’s time to wake up. They will sell their momma down the river to maintain their power, status, and privileges. Even if there aren’t term limits, we can vote against them after two terms. Some people never create meaningful legislation, anyway.
Hate less, better yet, don’t hate at all.
Love more. Love your neighbors, strangers, and anything that has life. We need each other, we can’t live without each other, and we each other to survive.
Look in the mirror. What role have you played in the demise of humanity?
Think fairness first. Thinking in terms of fairness causes you to act differently. We could reduce all of our national woes if we practiced personal fairness doctrines instead of having an “every man/woman for him/herself” mentality. Selfishness is not productive.
Learn the qualities of good leaders and then choose leaders with those traits. Stop choosing the dumbest rocks in the pile, and expecting them to successfully produce positive results. You get what you pay for. With every bad choice you make, someone, somewhere will pay the price for it. By eliminating potentially bad candidates and choosing right-minded leaders we can avoid unnecessary pain and suffering.
There is a price that comes with inaction, but we don’t have to remain in this state of disarray. It’s time to clean up the messes we’ve either made or condoned.
Faith is nice to have, but we don’t need that right now. We need worker bees. We cannot allow the media, the government, our politicians, flawed political views, scary family members, lazy friends, ignorance, or tragic national economic policies and practices to us stop us from making our lives better.
I have faith in you, but do you have faith in yourself?
Now is not the time for fear.
Now is not the time for inaction.
Now is the time to do the work.
We need to clean our house. We must work together as organized groups in our families, schools, social organizations, and communities to make change happen.
So, roll up your sleeves, use your healthy brains, and help to get us out of this sunken place. There is enough work for everybody. As the saying goes, many hands make light work.
Faith without work—dismantling, repairing, and reconstructing — is dead.
Let’s get to work.