This past spring one of our school’s families had to deal with the violent death of their 17 year old son and brother. The family was justifiably angry and wanted justice for their son’s death. What I found so very striking was the reaction of the boy’s father in addressing the media.
While acknowledging his family’s distress, he called for peace and calm and that there be no retribution against the school of the perpetrator. He called for people to honor his son’s life by being their best selves and not doing anything his son would not have wanted or anything that would bring dishonor on anyone.
I came across a saying recently that I think fits well here. “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Oppositional energy only creates more of the same.” That’s what this family was doing. They were practicing peace-making in response to a very traumatic and difficult situation.
So how do we confront the divisiveness and polarization that is so much a part of our society today and even part of our family life and friendships? Not by getting drawn into attacks either in person or on social media that generate more heat than light. If we do, we’re just giving oxygen to the negativity.
We respond by practicing the better, as Jesus did when confronting evil. Even though we can’t single-handedly change policies and programs, we each can do things on a day-to-day basis to make our world a better place, to make our world more welcoming, more beautiful, more fruitful, more peaceful. We can practice the better in so many areas of life.
“Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me. You increased my strength of soul.” (Psalm 138:3)