I saw a quote while searching for something on-line that I had to save, because it rang so true.
“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does.” (Sukhraj S. Dhillon)
A hallmark of the younger generations seems to be putting their beliefs into practice, at least for many who turn out in the streets to protest things that they believe are wrong. While their elders (which includes my generation) may share many of the same beliefs, they have not been labeled “the silent majority” for no reason. Their actions and behaviors do not reflect those beliefs. Why is that?
While the term “politically correct” was coined more recently, most of us who are older grew up in a society where standing out or being noticed for your actions in support of yor beliefs was discouraged from a very young age. The old phrased “children should be seen but not heard” dates back to the late nineteenth century (and maybe earlier), but it was still the rule in the Twentieth Century. Most in the older generations were raised in an environment that encouraged “going along to get along”. That same environment encouraged us to look the other way when we saw racial injustices by the police or anyone and to tolerate the bigotry against gays and others who were “different”. Anyone showing empathy for the plight of any of those groups was immediately labeled a “bleeding heart liberal”, which was the precursor to today’s conservative hate label – “socialist”.
But, what of us, as individuals?
Events too large to ignore, like the Corona Virus Pandemic and the public outrage over recent police brutality against people of color test our beliefs and our behavior. Recent news stories about people congregating in bars and on beaches without regard to safety measures for themselves and others point to a society that is self-centered and bereft of societal concerns or obligations. This is a reflection of the “I got mine, you go get your own” mentality that drives us much of the time. And, the protest marches over recent police killings of people of color have yet to drive meaningful action or reform in Washington or at many State and local levels.
You may be tempted to say, “What can I do about that?” You can start by wearing a mask in public and practicing social distancing. That is not an act of selfishness; it is an act of regard for the well-being of those around you. Perhaps you are not the type to take to the streets to protest, but you can take to the ballot box to vote. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable shouting slogans at a rally; but, you can put a sign in your yard in support of a candidate or an idea. You may not take the megaphone to shout for justice; but you can talk to your friends and express your concerns and opinions. You can at least put your beliefs into some form of behavior that shows the world the beliefs you hold. If you get really brave, you can volunteer at a local food bank or shelter – actually doing something about the hunger that exists in every community, instead of just being concerned about it.
Beliefs that are hidden away or suppressed are like faith that is not acted upon. The Bible tells us –
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. …” (James 2:14-26)
I have a sign on my front lawn right now that shows a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr – “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
What matters to you? If you believe in something, show the world through your works as well as your words. Change your behavior to reflect your beliefs.