It is all to easy in life to quickly move over to the dark side…the negative side. In today’s quote in the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Pastor Freed warns against that and instead advises that you take a positive approach – “Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.” (Stephen Covey)
I struggle with this problem all the time. My wife is constantly having to admonish me for being the critic or a judge of things or rushing to condemn instead of rushing to help. I’ve gotten a little better at it after her work for 55 years of marriage, but I still catch myself going over to the dark side too often and too quickly. I am lucky to have someone in my life who refuses to let that happen and keeps shining the light on me. Be a part of the solution.
Perhaps this penchant for taking the dark side is due to the ease with which one can sit back and do nothing or criticize, instead of stepping up to help solve the problem. It is easier to be the prejudiced by-stander than do the things to make our society more accepting of differences in people. It takes less effort to retreat into the comfort of indifference to the plight of those less fortunate than us or to ignore the plight that the subjects of systemic racism face, than to stand up and do something about it. Be a part of the solution.
Yet indifference is not a very satisfying feeling, it is a feeling of emptiness and the tolerance of injustice is at best a queasy feeling driven by constant guilt. It’s not that we don’t know what is right; it’s just that it seems so much harder to do than to just do nothing – to go over to the dark side. Be a part of the solution.
So, what is one to do? How can one act on the advice that Covey’s quote gave? You can start by being the light and the model that Covey called out. Be an example of how one should live and act in society. Be civil to others and kind. Be honest and forthright. Be the one who thrusts out his/her hand to welcome a person who is different from yourself and not the person who shrinks away. Be open to new ideas and new ways of looking at things. Be the person who brightens the room (the light) and not the one who introduces the gloom of cynicism or prejudices. Be the one that others would like to emulate and not the one that they try to avoid. Be a part of the solution.
The next part of Covey’s advice is even more important – be a part of the solution and not the problem. Problems are not solved by criticism or by heaping on more darkness. They are solved by people who roll up their sleeves and dive into the work needed to solve them. Indifferently standing by while others suffer makes you a part of the problem and not the solution. In every community across this land there are tons of opportunity all around you tp volunteer to do work on the solutions to the issues that confront society. There are food banks and counseling services and homeless shelters and other mostly volunteer organizations at work on the solutions and all of them need help. Find one or two and volunteer. Be a part of the solution.
What part does or faith play in all of this. It may be easy to sit back and allow yourself to believe that you will be saved by your faith alone; but we have been admonished in the Bible – “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.” (James 2:14-17) Be a part of the solution.
Do you fool yourself by seeing the poor beggar on the cold street corner and saying to him as you pass by, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled” or do you stop and do something? Instead of being satisfied by convincing yourself that you cannot stop and help every beggar, ask yourself what you can do to make sure that there are no beggars. Do something. Be a part of the solution.
Don’t go over to the dark side. Have a great day in the light. Be the model. Be a part of the solution.