Unrest and violence are running rampant in our society. As I type these words on my laptop, my little baby boy sleeps soundly beside me – unaware of news headlines, political campaigns and protest demonstrations. 9 weeks into life he is shielded by loving care. There have been no hard bumps yet. No relationships gone bad. No racism. No hate. No poverty. No disease. No wonder he sleeps peacefully by my side. Dad is familiar and he is close by.
One thing I notice in my children as they grow is how trusting they are. True (not yet two years old) has a habit of saying, “Hi” to everyone. The cashier in the market, the server at the drive through, the nursery workers at church – they are all his friends and he greets them like he is running for governor. He accepts everyone as kind and nice, and more often than not, they are. There is something about being greeted by a happy-faced toddler that brings out the best in everyone. Why? I wonder why a harried and hurried shopper will push past me with a vengeance at the grocery store, but stop and talk baby babble to True. Where is the statute recorded requiring us to change our attitude and actions toward each other once we enter adulthood? Can we not be toddler-friendly to all age groups?
Part of the problem is lousy judgment. We react to people based upon our assumptions about who we think they are. Skin color, clothing, a badge – any of these surface matters can cause negative emotions to rise up. We take a mental snapshot and decide how we are going to relate to someone based on what we see. Well, more often than not – a picture doesn’t tell the story. Our lives are recorded as films, not photos. The homeless person with the shuffling gait was once somebody’s baby. Hopes and dreams were sung over their cradles. The single mom with an addiction to pills was someone’s ‘crush’ in high school. She went to prom feeling that life was as full of promise as that night seemed to be. And, we, after realizing these former things, must believe in the future things yet to appear on the celluloid of their life film. The addict can get clean. The homeless one can find their way back from the street.
The news media specializes in snapshots. The networks bring the headlines to life in fast paced fractions. We are forced to opine and react in instants. But, there is so much we don’t know about protesters and policemen. Candidates are more than the sum total of their soundbites. Every one deserves our grace and goodness, whether we are one with their cause or not. If we could flash back through the years we would see toddlers with bright smiles and prom queens with stars in their eyes. And, by God’s grace we could see a beautiful future to these life stories. Replace judgment with hope. Replace the snapshot with a film. Re-think before react. And for all our lousy judgments I say “Cut!”