More bad news.
The world gives its fair share of heartbreak and hurts every day, but this week the news has been even harder to take. Many of us stopped watching the news altogether long ago to preserve our sanity and emotional health, unable to stomach the parade of pain that seemed to fill the screens endlessly. Life has so many struggles and stings already and piling sadness upon sadness just seemed to add fuel to an already scalding fire.
But this week the news has been hard to miss, especially for those of us living near Memphis. The whole world has held its breath and watched to see what will happen next after yet another incident in which a life was tragically taken floods the headlines.
We were determined to have open and honest conversations with our boys about the news they were hearing everywhere they turned, so last night my family sat together as many did, watching in horror as people promised to serve and protect did anything but. My youngest son, in his first year towards a degree in criminal justice, turned to me with tears in his eyes and asked what we were all asking. Why?
Why did those humans hurt another human?
As we watched a grown man cry out for his mother in what was the beginning of his end, my son cried out to me wanting to know what it was that made these men choose to hurt someone else. What was it inside them that made them purposefully choose hate and anger over help? I had only one decent answer while I pondered the same thing. They made a choice. They made a choice to not chase light when darkness showed up.
I had to tell my heartbroken-for-humanity son that while most of us will never personally see a situation like this, as humans we all have a hundred opportunities a day to choose right over wrong just like those officers did. Good over evil. Humility over power. Light over dark. In a million small ways and a million big ways, that decision lies waiting in us all.
The officers involved in this man’s death sat back and allowed the dark to win. They followed whatever instinct was driving them at that moment instead of making a better choice. By not choosing, they chose. By not choosing to stop that runaway train of anger, they made a choice that ended a human’s life. They chose what was easy instead of fighting for what was right.
Because doing what is right, what is better, what is good, is often the harder decision. Just ask Paul.
It takes action to choose light over the motion of the moment. It takes guts over glory. It takes control over impulse. Many times, it even takes being a lone voice in a crowded room. It is not something we do naturally—it is a step, not a stance. We have to actively look for the good things in this world. We must push hard to choose to love someone more than ourselves. Over and over and over again.
We will always have trouble in this world. Even the Bible says so. Darkness and struggle and wrong and evil are not going away. And we cannot just sit around and pretend that it doesn’t apply to us. It applies to all of us. For at some level, we all hold the ability to hurt another human in some way. I probably did it three times last week. While not at the extreme of what is flooding our screens right now, our words and our choices always hold the potential for harm. The active choice to seek light is the only thing that can a difference.
And it is hard. It takes work. It takes something greater than ourselves to not react to meanness and hurt. It takes commitment to love beyond all reason when people are acting (what we consider to be) unlovable. It takes an effort that goes against the grain. It takes a choice to do what seems unreasonable and unnecessary. It takes apologies when they are not deserved. It takes forgiveness where it is not earned. It takes strength to push beyond what is expected.
Like a mother who prays for men who killed her son.
Like a God that forgives me for the moments I did not choose light.
Strong. Beyond reason. Against the grain. Unearned. Unexpected.
I wish the dark wasn’t the norm. I wish that the good took up all the space of human behavior across the whole world and did not require such effort for its very existence. I wish the paradise of the garden had never been taken. I wish shame and hate and doubt had never been brought upon our souls. But wishing does not change it now. Only the choice to chase the light can rise us above what already is. Choosing differently is the only hope we have in a world that keeps giving us more of the same.
And choosing differently IS something we all can do. It is the weapon we can use to fight the dark. With so many things about this world out of control, looking for light in the dark is something we do have control over. Although there is so much bad news to be had, the good news can shine brighter.
For every nightfall will bring a dawn.
So friends, as you walk through this week, this day, even this hour, hold on to that. Hold on to the choice you have and take a step toward the good. Shine bright before men no matter the circumstance. Do not stand idle as good men fall. Rise above it like the sun rises every morning. Choose the good news. Listen to the good news.
Be the good news.