I Was Thinking…
“The question isn’t whether we are a nation divided by anger and fear. The question is what we’re going to do about it.”
This was a statement/question offered in Sunday’s Washington Post
by Timothy Perry Shriver, the chairman of Special Olympics. The following exerts from Mr. Shriver’s article spoke to my soul.
“The news and social media obsessively detail how we all hate one another, presenting a fresh new hell each week. But there is another story taking hold in our country.
At Ponaganset High School in Rhode Island student leaders launched their own campaign to counter bullying and to end a climate of tension and hostility. They wanted to change how they felt about one another and create a school where every student felt inspired and included.
Their campaign was defined by a pledge that every student makes: “As a member of the Ponaganset community, I pledge to look for the lonely, the isolated, the left out, the challenged and the bullied. I pledge to overcome the fear of difference and replace it with the power of inclusion. I choose to include!”
Ending fear and division is a tall order in this anxious world. But it’s not a new one. Special Olympics has found that inclusion can be taught
. It can be learned. And when nurtured, it can take root as a belief system rather than as passing kindness. It can become embedded in a person’s core values, just like respect, empathy and citizenship.
It is true that exclusion is still real for millions. Fortunately, it seems the vast majority of young people today are already more inclusive than any other generation in history. They want their schools and communities to be as inclusive as they are. And these young people are willing to lead, if we give them the chance.
So here is their formula for countering our national despair: Meet. Meet
those who are different. Meet
in situations of fun and friendship. Play
common ground. Learn
a skill together. Challenge
yourselves to support one another. And then repeat
, and repeat
again. Slowly, fears and labels recede, and what’s left is just another human being, eager to matter, eager to contribute, eager to belong.
live in a time of joyful and fearless inclusion instead of the rot of resentment that now prevails. It can’t come soon enough.” (“Unified Teams Benefit Everyone”
, Washington Post, Sunday, October 28, 2018)
And Jesus told a parable about what will occur when the Son of Man takes his place on his glorious throne and you and I are called into accountability for our faith and our faith action, “Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling you the solemn truth; Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me’.”
(Matthew 25:40, The Message