What can we do when we feel “there is nothing we can do?” When we feel helpless and afraid after what happened in Paris, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles. And that’s just in the last few weeks.
Here in the bustle and busy-ness of the holidays, amid the wealth and commerce that pervade our culture, we find ourselves in the wake of terror and violence. We all of us face fear, sadness, and grief, all of which are heightened during the holidays.
I find myself thinking, what can I do?
Our day-to-day lives are so full of family, work, and community responsibilities that there isn’t room for much else. Moreover it’s just not practical or possible for most of us to join the Marines, or work in refugee camps, or become priests, or be Bono.
We must content ourselves with ourselves; unless as someone once said, we can be Batman, in which case always be Batman.
And then I remind myself that we affect the world with every single thing we think, say, and do.
What can we do? We can lend a hand right in our own little town or big city. We can lend an ear, or a shoulder. We can visit a family member who is lonely. We can run an errand for a friend whose child is sick. We can pull someone out of a ditch. We can make a stranger feel welcome. We can be kind.
We can embrace beauty.
We can move with grace.
We can act with integrity. We can say yes to whatever integrity means for us. And just as importantly, we can say no.
We can, as the line in a Christmas hymn goes, let the soul feel its worth.
It goes without saying, perhaps, but we can wear elf ears.
We can pray of course. We can pray for peace, and we can pray for the comfort of those who are suffering.
We can, as God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Krishna, Quan Yin, and all of ’em would have it, we can make our lives about love. And as the new Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in his installation speech, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.” To which the entire National Cathedral would have shouted AMEN if they did that in the Episcopal Church, which they do not. But they wanted to then.
We can do what brings us joy. We can play sports or play music or sing or dance or cook or read or tell a naughty joke (one of my personal favorites).
All the joy we feel goes out into the world.
We can have fun.
By our own examples of kindness, gratitude, integrity, grace, and joy, however great or small, we can set examples for others. We can shine a light for others. We can bring light to the world.
We can be a force for good.
That is what we always can do.