Last week I spent five days at Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, as a participant in the 2015 Samuel Dewitt Proctor Child Advocacy Institute, which is sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund. The Institute brings together social justice activists and child advocates from across the country along with some of the finest preachers in the land.
One of those preachers, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the former congregation of President Barack Obama, gave several amazing sermons, but the first one of the week that he gave struck many chords for me and I am feeling compelled to share some of the thoughts it sparked.
The admonition that Rev. Moss gave to us was that we need to “turn the page” on a lot of the negativity that confronts us in this day if we are folks who have the faith we claim to have. All of us needed to hear these words. We spend so much of our time hearing bad news and repeating bad news that is brought to us, oftentimes without realizing how costly this practice is to us and the work that we have been called to do.
Many news media outlets thrive on bad news. I can’t help but wonder if an outlet that only reported good news could survive. We have become a people who like the drama of bad news and of calamity far more than we like stories about peace and triumphs. This is unfortunate because all of us know that any glass that is half filled can be seen as either half full or half empty. It depends upon one’s point of view. The addiction to the drama that comes with rehearsing all of the wrongs that one can remember and then adding speculations about what else might occur can cause the depletion of energy that needs to be used for creating the beloved community of peace and justice.
One has to be intentional about the desire to turn the page away from the negative and toward the positive. Because it is not only the forces outside of our homes that plague us with the negative -- often it comes from those who are closest to us more than anyone else. Daily conversations with family members and co-workers can be the most difficult to manage because of the relationships that we have with those who are closest to us. They are harder to escape because they cannot be avoided easily.
But, each day a choice can be made to focus upon all of the things that are not working well in the world and all of the suffering that comes from that brokenness or to pick something to work on each day that can help to make things better. We can turn the page to see how our gifts, talents and resources can be used to make a change. When we simply allow ourselves to fall into the pit of laments, we become immobilized and eventually become a part of the problem instead of any possible solutions.
As I reflect upon Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, and think about the ways in which she turns the page to seek new possibilities for the nation’s children who are suffering on so many fronts, I am inspired. Given the mess that we have made as a country out of providing for the masses of our children in this country, much time could be spent talking about that. But it is far more helpful to turn the page and to focus upon how to make change. Edelman does that in remarkable ways. She encourages us all through her many decades of focused commitment to the children. I hope that many of us will go forward and turn the page to find new hope.
This column by Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., appears twice monthly. Meeks is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.