I am on a flight back from meetings in Europe today, and I am in a very self-reflective mood. Why? I thought it was a good opportunity to get caught up on global news by reading several newspapers and magazines, and as I reflected on the state of global affairs, I was reminded again of the importance to me – and to all of us – to keep things in “BALANCE”.
Here’s what I mean…
Yes, it is clear that there are conflicts and wars taking place all around the world, and there is no dearth of tragic incidents of “man’s inhumanity against man”. Seeing all of this, it is easy to become disenchanted or even depressed.
I remember when I was a young boy of 9 or 10 years old, and my maternal grandfather, Farrell Grehan, would take me for long walks through the local parks when we visited him in Richmond Hill, Queens, NY. He taught world history at an NYC high school for more than 40 years and explained to me during our walks that there have been continual wars and fighting since the dawn of man. He taught me the importance of understanding and learning from world history. He encouraged me to find examples of people trying to make a positive difference, true values-based leaders who decided to do something about the issues and challenges in the world…people like Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, who taught us that rather than waiting for “those guys” (some magical group of men and women) to do something about the issues and problems in the world, we need to realize that WE are all “those guys”…so do something about it. Don’t just sit there “watching the movie” — get “in the movie”!
So, wanting to look at things in a more positive (balanced) light, I took another look at the recent news and saw some “light” in which to be optimistic:
- I was excited to see that Pope Francis is going to meet with Patriarch Kirill I, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, on February 12th in Cuba. This will be the first meeting of the leaders of the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity since the Great Schism of 1054…yes, I said 1054 — almost 1000 years ago!!!
- I appreciated the fact that President Obama visited a mosque at the Islamic Society of Baltimore and condemned Islamophobia by stating “We’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim-Americans that has no place in our country…we have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias and targets people because of religion. We can’t be bystanders to bigotry.”
- David Brooks, a writer for the New York Times, reminded me of the famous story of Roddie Edmonds, an American master sergeant during WWII. When a group of Americans were captured, the head of the German prison camp ordered that all Jewish soldiers amongst the American prisoners step forward. Edmonds ordered all of his men to step forward. The Nazi leader put a gun to Edmonds’ head and said, “These can’t all be Jewish.” Edmonds replied, “We are all Jews”. Rather than execute all of the men, the Nazis backed down. I must admit I got very emotional reading this story.
There are many ways to reflect on what we are all called to do. For me, a passage from 1 Corinthians sums it up well:
Love is the Greatest
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
1 Corinthians 13, New Living Translation (NLT)
So, let’s end with a song as my flight lands back in Chicago:
“What the world needs now…..is love”
I always appreciate receiving your feedback.
Have a great week!