As I watch the news, I am appalled by the violence and destruction. There are times when I have to turn the television off and pray that we return to God and truly love one another. However, over the course of just a single week, I see or hear of more violence, more destruction and the list goes on. Instead of exchanging ideas and listening to one another, we have turned to calling one another names or, worst yet, screaming at each other. Even our elected officials are no longer respectful of one another. They, too, have become just as offensive as the individuals I see on television or read about in the news. It seems that we are no longer civil to one another and have resorted to violence and anger to express our feelings. We no longer strive to work together for the betterment of all, but rather, look for ways to only advance ourselves over others.
What has happened to us? I remember the times when we came together to do great things and advance noble causes. We fought against tyranny and social injustice. We fought for those who were oppressed, poor, or were of a different color. As Americans without the hyphen, we continue to do great things.
In May of this year, for example, the United States returned to space for the first time in almost nine years by launching two astronauts from United States soil. Prior to that momentous moment, US astronauts were hitching rides on Russian rockets. For me, when Crew Dragon lifted off the pad at Kennedy, I felt a certain pride knowing that we were returning to space.
When we, as a nation, commit ourselves to do something great, we go all out with pride and are dedicated to the idea of not only doing it for our nation but also for the advancement of mankind as a whole. I cannot think of a better example than the Apollo program that started with a brash young President standing before the United States Congress challenging us all to do something almost unheard of.
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, standing before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, uttered these words that still to this very day fill me with pride, “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar spacecraft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations--explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon--if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.”
We, as a nation, committed ourselves to meeting the challenge given to us by President Kennedy. In July,1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. Everyone around the world was glued to a television or radio as he came down the ladder of the lunar excursion module and set his foot upon the soil of a foreign world.
The entire world came together and shared in that momentous achievement and marveled at what we, not only as a nation, but also as a people, could do when we set our minds on doing something great.
When we work for the good, the good just naturally comes through and shines like a brilliant light. We have no petty differences. We work to do those things that give us an opportunity to add yet another thread in the rich tapestry of man’s existence.
Even today, we see a similar opportunity to do something wonderful. As we face a pandemic and an invisible foe, COVID-19, thousands of people all around the world are working tirelessly to create a vaccine. Thousands of healthcare workers, physicians, specialists, nurses, emergency medical workers and so many others work daily to keep those infected with this malady alive. It is through these moments when we see the best in man come out and outshine the violence and destruction.
Paul, in chapter twelve of his letter to the Romans, writes, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
When I witness the violence and destruction that has embroiled our nation, I am saddened by all of it. I see the lives of individuals shattered by the violence and destruction that has become a way of advancing mankind. We should stop all of this and work towards peaceful solutions that are created by listening to one another rather than screaming at one another. We should reach out with an open hand to those in need of help instead of shaking a clenched fist in anger.
In order for us to do those things that are great, noble and good, we need to start by loving one another and not pretending that we do. As Paul puts it, hate is wrong. By embracing love, we embrace goodness and when we do that, we embrace God.
God showed his love for all of us by giving His son for us as an atonement sacrifice. Through Jesus’ death, our debt of sin was paid. Through his resurrection, our gift of eternal life was ensured. Through his example, we live our lives with a Christ-like attitude of love and understanding.
When we strive to rise above our differences and genuinely love one another, we can work to solve all of the problems that face us all. We live in a world of abundance but there are those who starve. Some do not even have clean water to drink. Let us unite in Christian brotherhood and endeavor to love one another and live in harmony.
In chapter thirteen of his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul, closes his letter, by writing, “Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.”
I encourage you to go out today and everyday and encourage those around you to live in peace and harmony. Show others that you not only care for them but you also genuinely love them. By doing those things, we are advancing a great, noble and good cause that unites us all in Christian love and gives us the strength to stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.