My little neighborhood community is all up in arms right now. They are doing some serious re-zoning of the school district lines in our city and, as you can imagine because it is not uncommon in these scenarios, people are straight up mad. Specifically, my particular neighborhood is mad because our middle school is being re-zoned and we didn’t make the cut. Here is what is most fascinating to me about this sudden surge in passion amongst my neighbors: ten years ago, five years ago even, most of them wouldn’t have touched that middle school with a ten foot pole. Until a few years ago, that school was thought to be dangerous and unsafe, which is code for, it pulled kids from the wrong side of the tracks. A few years ago most of my neighbors with kids that age chose to send their children to private schools, where they were safe and insulated.
And then a few years ago, this particular middle school got tagged as a player in the city’s new magnet program for public schools. And to top it all off, it became the magnet for the Arts in our city. Well, this changed everyone’s tune about this little middle school that was once thought so dangerous. Now it has become a prestigious place to send your child, even more so if they make the cut into the magnet program. And now we have been deemed as sitting on the wrong side of the tracks.
What’s interesting to me as I watch the message boards light up night after night about the perceived injustice that is occurring here, is that no one is claiming that they were a part of the process of this school becoming a magnet. No one feels like something they worked hard for and advocated day and night for is suddenly being taken away from them because the majority of them had no part whatsoever in the process of making one of the worst schools in our city now one of the most sought after. They didn’t attend school board meetings month after month, they didn’t even sign any petitions or write their representative. They simply sent their kids to private school when this middle school was thought to be insufficient. And now that they are facing a new middle school that they have deemed unworthy, they are threatening to send their kids back to private school. (It’s about to be a boom time year for some Orlando private schools!) Their only argument is proximity. Which I am pretty confident the kids on the other side of the tracks could argue just as soundly.
There’s a lot of hullabaloo all over the internet and social media over all sorts of injustices around the world, some more clearly unjust than others. One that keeps popping up on my feeds is the debate around Planned Parenthood. Man, what a heartbreaking crisis. It’s a lose/lose. And I cannot even pretend to know how to solve that problem. Even for my predictably black and white nature, I have to admit there’s a lot of gray that we have gotten ourselves in to with that mess. But every time I see a well-intentioned person demand the defunding of Planned Parenthood by stating religious values I think of this one cultural phenomenon that occurred centuries ago:
Back in the day when the Roman Empire was the leading titan in the world, infanticide was widely accepted and even encouraged. When a Roman family found themselves with a child that they didn’t want for one reason or another, they simply left the infant unprotected from the elements at a designated spot outside of town. Just as if we would drive our trash to the landfill on the edge of town today, they would deposit their unwanted infants in the city dump. Nothing about this was wrong or unseemly. Their culture approved of it and even encouraged it.
And then Christianity flamed into town. And suddenly these babies that were being left to die were vanishing from their would be graves. The Christian families were going out and collecting them. Not only that, they weren’t collecting them to be placed in to an orphanage, they were adopting them immediately into their own homes and families. Yes, the Christian church leaders at the time were publicly de-crying the inhumanity of infanticide and this horrific practice that Roman culture allowed, but more so than that, they were adopting the children, quietly and steadfastly. Because they realized that words without action were mute.
We are rapidly approaching an election year. This is a time of year where I usually check out of social media. Ironically enough, I majored in Political Science in college. I have a fancy framed diploma that declares that I spent the required amount of hours learning about and studying the great democracy that is our nation. In college I was convinced that I loved politics and that I had all the makings of a fantastic campaign manager one day. Until my senior year when I actually spent some time on a campaign and spent some time observing the candidate and his senior staff. I was assured he was a “good one”. And I learned that in politics, there are no “good ones”, there are just “not as bad ones”. So I bowed out and I have remained bowed out ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I vote! Voting is very very very important and I am not naive to the fact that countless men and women throughout the centuries have given their lives so that I could vote. Please, educate yourself and vote.
But maybe take a minute before you hit those social media feeds and think about the words you are about to put out in the twitter-verse. The leaders that your countrymen elect may or may not be the same one you punched the ballot for. If that happens, how will you continue to support your cause? Will you simply give in to the temptation to rant and rave about the flawed new leader? Or are you willing to put some helpful action behind those words you so boldly spoke in the months before? Are you willing to give your time to the cause you are lending your large mouth to? Or maybe even your money? Are you willing to sit in the school board meetings and duke it out, with the intention of finding a solution that is best for your city as a whole and not only your family? Will you adopt some babies? Or maybe even just rock some babies? Before you publicly rant against the injustice of same sex marriage, will you actually make a homosexual friend? Will you put any positive action behind your words?
Words are important. Words strung together beautifully and articulately have been known to inspire nations and change cities, countries and sometimes even, the world. But all of the pretty words in the world do nothing if some sort of action isn’t put behind them. As we approach a time where lines are easily drawn and harsh words are tossed around for no other reason sometimes than to make a splash, please consider how committed you are to the action of your cause rather than simply the voice.
And for us Christ followers out there, the world knows all of our words, sometimes better than we do. Its our Christ filled actions that show our belief in those words and the power of a Living and loving Savior.