Posts Tagged good

The Common Good

The character of the American public has been on display for the world to see during this pandemic. Most Americans have taken seriously the warnings from heath experts and stayed home. They have observed social distancing, and worn masks when visiting public places.

There is no coercive force making us do these things. There are no armies in the streets. Companies have shut down. Workers have stayed home and large scale events have been canceled. Why? Because most of us are concerned about others as well as being concerned for ourselves.

Most of us realize that our lives will never be the same again. Whatever the new normal turns out to be, it won’t be the old normal. We have discovered new ways of doing things. Some have developed new skills. Others have put their creative talents to work. Others have taken chances that they would never have taken. No one would deny that the pandemic is a major challenge; however, we will emerge wiser, stronger and better than before.

Of course, as always, there are nay sayers. There are those who think it is all a hoax. They doubt science. They doubt the experts and they doubt the reports from the legitimate news outlets, but their numbers are small compared to the vast majority who are helping to turn the tide on the pandemic.

We may fight loudly and fiercely about politics but when the welfare of our countrymen is at risk, we pull together. We unite for the common good. There will be plenty of time for fighting after we conquer the coronavirus.

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Never criticize.  Always Encourage.

My second grade teacher, Mrs. Workman, said to me, “You are a polite young man.” One of our children’s directors at Northside Baptist Church said to me, “I am surprised at your behavior. I expected better from you.” Two very different statements about my behavior at about the same time. It is a vivid example of our ability to make choices about what side of ourselves we choose to share. We are in control of us.

Each of us has the power within us for good or evil. We can choose to be truthful or to lie. We can choose to be kind or unkind. We can choose to be polite or rude. We can choose to build other people up or tear them down. Our words reveal what is in our hearts.

The temptation is to blame others when we show our more unattractive side. “The devil made me do it,” is an easy out. I was being attacked or I had to defend myself are often cited as reasons. for revealing our darker sides. In today’s toxic climate it is easy to fall into the victim role or to lash out. It takes determination to stay the course. That does not mean that we will get it right every time. There are no pills to take that will insure lifelong success. We can only try each time the opportunity to show our better side presents itself. The more we succeed increases our chances of success next time.

We are all works in progress. We are under construction. Finding the right words never becomes easy; however, it does become easier with practice. Words are powerful instruments for good or evil. “Loose lips sink ships.” “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” “We the people.” “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” “Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.” “You lie.”

Words are powerful. Use them wisely.

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Something Ventured: Don Kirkland

Don Kirkland. Something Ventured: Selected Writings from My Career in Journalism. Greenville. Baptist Courier Press. ©2014

I have been feasting for the past several days. I discovered by accident former Baptist Courier editor, Don Kirkland’s book, Something Ventured. It is a spiritual feast.

Don’s writing skills are well known by South Carolina Baptists. His knowledge of Scripture is apparent in every entry. He makes me wish I knew about Walter Rauschenbusch, the father of the social gospel movement; however, this is not his greatest contribution. His real contribution is in helping us understand our roles as ordinary Christians.

Don tells us that the Bible sheds light on all the times in Jesus’ ministry that are not specifically accounted for, “He went about doing good.” He makes its clear that going about doing good is exactly what we are to do. He quotes renowned poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “All service ranks the same with God.” Jesus puts it this way, “You are the light of the world.”

According to Don, “Christianity must be visible to others or it is not Christianity at all.” Later he says, “I encourage those who will hear me to never throw in the towel. Never stop doing what Jesus expects of us.”

We hear you, Don. Thank you.

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