As a new year has come upon us, we believe that all of us can bring something well needed in 2021: hope. These next few weeks, YES will be posting articles on our blog that look at how each of us can bring hope to those in our homes and those around us who may be struggling. We believe that bringing hope is a choice and it begins first with ourselves.
“99% of behavior we see in others that we don’t understand is a sign of suffering. When one of us suffers, we all suffer. When deep darkness and brokenness are revealed, especially on the feast of Epiphany, we can’t look away. We must recognize the darkness, in our own hearts and before our eyes, and ask our Lord: How am I to be an agent of your light and peace amidst the shadows of darkness? ‘By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ – Luke 1:79” – Katrina Bitar
Over the past couple of days, we have seen what happens when our world is not what God intended it to be. We have seen what happens when individuals choose self-serving actions over the service of others. We have seen what happens when hate is allowed to fester. This hate is not isolated, nor is it new. Seen on the news around the world, however, this week many of us were forced to reckon with the results of what happens when discrimination and bigotry are allowed to seep into our society and are accepted.
Everyone is entitled to their own political viewpoints and legitimate ways of handling disagreements. However, what we have seen is beyond simple differences in opinions or ideologies. What transcends our own viewpoints and is not acceptable are violence, disparagement, and desecration. What we cannot allow is God’s ideal for this world to be misguided for the purpose of perpetuating the ego, power, lies or anger. All of us have power, and that power lies in the choices we make each day. When we make choices to hate, to ignore those with differing viewpoints rather than engage, and to choose violence for one’s own gain over peace, we move our reality farther away from what God intended it to be. We must make a choice to not only push back against what we have seen, but also actively work to create a better reality that is filled with love and unity. So far in the new year, things have not quite changed. But each of us can make a choice to insist on creating a greater reality. Indeed, we must.
Every day, YES and its participants engage with individuals vastly different than them and find a common humanity in each individual we are blessed to serve. But those that we are called to serve are not only found in the streets or on YES trips: they are our neighbors, our friends, our relatives. We believe that this mission, to give hope to individuals, is now a mission that all of us have incumbent on ourselves. How will we give hope to our current world?
James Baldwin, in No Name in the Street, states:
“People pay for what they do, and still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply: by the lives the lead.”
The lives we lead are unmistakable reflections of who we are. Who will we choose to be? What will we choose to spread?
As we begin the New Year, each one of us can make the choice to actively lead with renewed hope and a sense of vigilance in the importance of this mission to come together in love. In doing so, we hope that we can bring God’s intent for this world closer to reality.
– Nicole Khamis, YES Leader. Nicole attends Harvard School of Law. She is the founder of MRAP: Michigan Refugee Assistance Program, a student lead non-profit at the University of Michigan.