Because of what I do (pastor) and because I have lived and been involved in the community in which I live for many years, I have been privileged to work with many, many REALLY GOOD PEOPLE. People who get up each day and do their best to make the communities in which we live better and do their best to care for and to help others. They care for children and youth. They work to make our schools better. They do all they can to help immigrant families find their way. The list can and does go on and on. All of them do what they do on top of doing their jobs to the best of their abilities and caring for their own families. Often unseen and seldom recognized, these are the people who hold our communities together. It has been and is an honor to be in their company.
On the other side are the screamers.
Those people who, for whatever reason, are so angry all they can do is shout and in their shouting demean and belittle and demoralize those who are the focus of their anger. I have been around them as well and, at times, been the focus of their shouting. While none of us is perfect and all of us, both individually and corporately, can do better, being yelled at and called names helps no one. Here is the risk. If the screamers have their way too long or go unchallenged for too long, the really good people get to the point where they say, “Enough is enough.” (that’s the polite way to say it) and walk away. When that happens we all lose. More than we know.
I was with one of those really good people the other day. A professional who gave his time to work with me on a scholarship program designed to help young adults from low income families meet the gap between college financial aid packages and what their families could afford. He was tired. And discouraged. I could hear it in his voice and see it in his face. The screamers were at work. Not directed at him particularly, but at the organization of which he was a part. I left our meeting worried and sad. The screamers were winning.
I wish I had more answers than I do.
I know we are all busy with multiple responsibilities and family obligations. Most of our time is spent keeping our own lives and our own families together and on track. So much so that sometimes the concerns beyond that immediate circle around our lives disappear in our busyness. But if we value the communities in which we live…
And value all those really good people who work so hard to strengthen our communities…
We have to find ways to not let the screamers win.
We can debate and discuss and disagree.
But, let’s find ways to do that which builds up rather than tears down.