Don’t go over to the dark side…

February 18, 2021

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.

Reaching out from the dark side…

June 22, 2015

I get emails about people deciding to “follow” what I’m posting here. I appreciate that others find what I write to be something that they want to read and read more of over time. Hopefully I will be able to keep them interested or amused or both.

I visit every site and blog of everyone who “follows” or “likes” my blog, assuming that they give me enough information to get to their site/blog. Not all do. I may “like” their site in return, but I am so overwhelmed with daily emails now that I seldom choose the follow option, which would result in even more emails every time they post something. I do return from time to time to their sites to see what has been posted, since I was last there.

girl cryingA significantly large number of sites that I visit are filled with posts that have themes that I might classify as “reaching out from the dark side.” These are sites that are posted by people who are in the midst of pain or sorrow or anguish in their lives and apparently find some relief or release in the act of posting missives about their pain or anguish.  I get that. Writing about such things is very cathartic. Many are from what I would describe as “young people” and many are still searching for meaning in their lives. I get that, too.

I’m actually amazed and thankful that more of these people haven’t reached a stage of cynicism where they would lash out and attack a site like mine that may be perceived as having simplistic and overly positive advice for dealing with life. The “don’t worry; be happy” message that I often post may not only fall on deaf ears, but can actually offend those who are intent on being unhappy. By-and-large the people whom I mightsurrounded by sharks anger make up a relatively small group. Most people would rather be happy in their lives, but many don’t know how to fight the depression or despair that they are faced with on a day-to-day basis.

I hope that’s where my little blog comes in handy. The people who don’t want to be helped probably don’t reach out through blogging or most other means of communicating. I think that those who do share their mental state and the things that have put them there are asking for understanding AND help through their blogs. Help doesn’t necessarily mean professional help; most of the time it just means that they would like someone to sit with, to share with and to commiserate with. You can be that someone by reading their blog and leaving a comment or sharing a private message of support. Sometimes just finding a way to say, “Me too”, is enough, because it lets them know that they are not alone.

dark alleyThink of it this way – You are walking down the street and pass a dark alley. From the darkness comes a faint voice
that you hear calling out, “Help me.”  What do you do? Do you hurry your step so that you can get past the alley quicker or do you look in to see who it is that is calling for help? Do you enter the alley and try to help or do you turn instead and walk away? Yes, it is a bit scary. After all I did say that the calls come from a dark alley – places that are unfamiliar to us; places that we’d never go (or so we think), places that are dark. People can appear to be scary when they are depressed, even if they are not standing in an alley.

Life is full of those moments. People all around us are quietly calling for help. Some are calling out from the dark alleys of society (the dark side) but most are just calling you from right next door. These are your neighbors and co-workers, the people that you go to church with and the people that you socialize with on a regular basis. Do you recognize their calls for help? Do they need to scream at you to be heard? Are you so wrapped up in yourself that you cannot see or hear their pain, their needs? When they reach out will you be ready to help or will you turn away and hurry on about your business, afraid to get involved?

And, what if it is you who need the help? What do you think the poor traveler who had been beaten and robbed alongGood Samatitanthe road thought of the people who chose to ignore him lying there, until the Good Samaritan came along? What were those others thinking anyway? Do you relate more to them than to the Samaritan? After all, you have places to go and people to see; you can’t be bothered to help that poor fellow standing at the side of the road with his little sign. Maybe he did something to deserve his fate, you think. He’s not one of us, anyway; so, it’s best to just ignore him and pass him by. Do you think he understood? Do you think he forgave you?

So the lesson is that if you can help you should; because, someday it may be you standing at the end of that dark alley calling out for help or alongside the road with your little sign. Have a great week ahead and keep your eyes open and helping handsyour ear tuned for those calls for help. You can make a positive difference in somebody’s life this week just by answering the call – Hi, do you need help. Can I help? How can I help? Want to talk about what’s wrong? I’m so sorry, tell me about it.

Go for it. They’ll be glad you did and so will you. Reach into that dark place and pull someone into the light of the Son.