Intentional Acts of Kindness
July 14, 2016
I am weary, as many of you are, of expressions of hate, confusion, and violence in our world accentuated by the seeming escalation recently. Acts of terror have seemingly consumed us. In the midst of all this, we are cannot forget that we are interconnected one with another. What happens in Baghdad, Bangladesh, Turkey, Orlando, Minnesota, Dallas, Louisiana, or Kashmir impacts our common soul as human beings. I am not attempting to make a statement here, but I wanted to write and suggest something at this time. The writer of Ecclesiastes says that there is a time for everything. Perhaps this is the time for more embraces and fewer statements. I am calling for us to consider hitting the pause button, so to speak.
Here’s what I mean: I wonder if it is time for practicing intentional acts of kindness as a central part of our conversation, because everything else seems loaded and unreasonable. It does not make sense to have all these dividing lines of fear that exist between us. And yet they do. I have a gut feeling that we are not going to discuss our way out of this impasse because each of us thinks, and often is convinced, that we are right. And rhetorically speaking, it’s easy to think if I am right you must be wrong. I have found that most of life is not that simple. So much of human interaction is enriched because of our ability to see the world from another side and adjust our own perspective. It is the ability to be transformed by another view that enables us to grow into a more perfect union. This is true whether it involves a relationship between two people or in a community or a nation.
Such transformation, however, needs a baseline of feeling calm within. So, let me suggest a nonviolent protest that any one of us can organize for such a time as this. I urge us to gather in small groups to break bread. Roja and I will practice this by inviting our neighbors over. We are cooking food with lots of passion and love, and sharing it with neighbors; some have become close and some have never come into our home. We hope to have normal conversations about children, about the beauty of the garden, perhaps about fireflies — and to lift up prayers for our country and our world.
There are many ways to take a break from the paralyzing news cycles. We can watch a movie with a simple theme. We can make time to share our love generously with our immediate neighbors. We can donate generously to a local mission. The way out of a violent cycle is to create or recreate a nonviolent one. We have the power to do it. So, let’s get creative and do it! There are even two upcoming opportunities to come together as a joyful diocese: the baseball game this Friday at 6 p.m. and the Pride Parade on Saturday at 1 p.m. We are interconnected and are better together.
We have weddings in our Diocesan staff family this weekend. Chief Financial Officer Todd Rubiano's daughter, Taylor, is getting married to Peter, and our Communications Missioner, Matt Townsend, is marrying Kate. I invite you to bless them by praying for them.
Now cliché, posters urging people to “keep calm and carry on” first appeared in Great Britain in 1939, as British people came under almost constant threat of bombing. In the midst of this violence, and on all sides of that conflict, people continued to break bread, to share a kind word, to marry one another, to weed their gardens. The message wasn’t to ignore the violence – it was to be brave, to hold fast to dear things, to repair what is broken and move on in hope. We have a lot of repairing to do. Let's keep calm and do the gentle work.
Pray with me: This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand up bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen. (BCP 461)
With much affection,
The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh
VIII Episcopal Bishop in Rochester