Finding Hope in Unexpected Places

Often we find it almost impossible to find a Ray of Hope in places where we expect to find hope. At the same time we sometimes find a Ray of Hope in unexpected places. Recently I (Ray) observed that reality as I watched the TV news. 

One place I believe the people of a nation should expect to find hope is in their national government. As an American I’ll use the government of theUnited States of Americaas an example. I believe most Americans vote for people to serve in Congress and as President because we believe they will rise above their personal or political party preferences by cooperating and compromising as they fulfill their responsibilities of enacting the laws necessary for the well-being of all Americans. I believe most of us agree that their purpose is not to do and say what is necessary for themselves and their political party to gain and hold political control over the nation. I believe most of us expect them to always put the well-being of the nation above their personal or party politics.

Over the past few months our elected officials have been faced with the need to enact laws concerning the federal budget, national debt, debt ceiling, and related financial issues. There are differing views on what needs to be done and how to whatever that is.. That should be a good thing, since it means a number of solutions can be considered and, if there is cooperation and compromise, the result will be the best solution – not necessarily a perfect solution – but the best possible solution for the well-being of the nation and its people.  

 So far, I have seen and heard some degree of cooperation and compromise, and therefore, signs of hope. But it seems that every time really good news is about to be announced, one party or the other, announces an objection. Our elected leaders seem to be more interested in finding objections to and criticizing each others proposals than in cooperating and compromising with each other to develop and adopt a solution to our national financial issues.

 Every day that goes by, I see and hear more and more bad news fromWashington,D.C.I have a picture of adults who should be role models for all of us, including our children, acting like self-centered children. Every time I hear or read their comments about each other, it’s as if I am hearing children saying, “if you don’t play the game my way, I’m not going to play with you.” And their response sounds like “If you won’t play the game my way, I’m going to take my ball and go home”. And then I picture the children’s game being called off because they refuse to agree on the rules.  

 In the short term, I mean days and weeks – a month at most – I have hope that they will stop acting like children and get around to cooperating and compromising to do what they were elected to do. I have hope that they will realize that if they don’t do that quickly, many of them will be turned out of office in the 2012 election, because the American people are tired of  their failing to act like responsible adults for the good of the nation.

 At the same time, I have even more hope for the long-term. I mean a few decades in the future, when most of the current elected leaders will be replaced by those who today are children. One reason I have this long-term hope is that my study of American history tells me that in the past when our national elected leadership got stuck in their self-centered ways, they either changed their ways or were replaced.

 Another reason is that from time to time I see and hear good news, about situations in which today’s children serve as role models for adults. Here’s a recent example. I heard about it in a very brief news clip in the sports report.This good news took place in the stands at an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game. As the story unfolded it was caught on TV for the world to see. At the end of the inning one of the players tossed a baseball to the fans in the stands. As happens whenever a ball finds it’s way into the stands, the fans scramble to get their hands on it. Of course, only one fan will end up with the ball, which will become a treasured souvenir. There was the expected scramble for the ball. It ended up in the hands of a 12 year old boy, who apparently got it away from a smaller kid, who couldn’t hold onto it. The 12 year old, triumphantly holding the ball, made his way back to his seat, two or three rows behind where the smaller kid was seated.

Just as the older kid was about to take his seat, he turned around. This took the sportscasters by surprise. I don’t recall exactly what they said, but it was something like “Where’s he going? What’s he doing?” He got down to where the smaller kid was seated and turned toward him. Next you heard the sportscaster, truly amazed at what he was seeing, say “I can’t believe this. He’s giving the ball to the other kid!” Which is precisely what he did.

He was also briefly interviewed on TV after the game by one of the sportscasters.He was asked “why did you do that, give the ball away?” His answer was “I saw that the other kid was feeling so bad because he couldn’t hold onto the ball. So I knew giving it to him was the right thing to do.” There it was. Unexpected good news in an unexpected place. Good news in the midst of bad news. As the adults we elected to run our government are acting like self-centered children, a story about a child who acts like adults are supposed to act unfolds before our eyes.

That story about that 12 year old boy has given me hope. I’m sure there are many other kids like him, who don’t end up in the news, but they know “the right thing to do”. And they do the right thing. My long-term hope is that more and more children who know and do the right thing now, will do so when they become adults. I hope that some of them will be elected to participate in running the government of theUnited States of America. And I hope those who are some day elected will cooperate and compromise with each other, placing the well-being of the nation and its people above personal and party politics.  

In the Bible (Amos 5:21-24) God speaks to the people through the prophet Amos, telling them that He despises and hates all of their ritual religious activities, which really don’t accomplish much of anything, except make the people feel good about themselves. So what are they supposed to do? God’s answer “…let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” In Micah 6:8 the same point is made “…what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”. In the Gospels, Jesus sums up all of this by saying that the greatest commandment is to love God and your neighbor. Your neighbor being anyone and everyone who God places in your path and God gives you the ability to help, serve, and love.

It seems to me that right now, too many of the officials we elected to run our government on our behalf, most of whom claim to believe in God, are too busy carrying out the self-centered rituals of personal and partisan politics, and not accomplishing much of anything for God or the nation and its people. On the other hand this 12 year old boy demonstrates justice, kindness and righteousness – doing the right thing – expressed not by useless ritual, but by loving action.  And that gives me hope.   

Please Note: This was written on July 27. Last night, July 31, President Obama announced that an agreement, the result of cooperationand compromise, had been reached, which would be put to a vote today, August 1. I have hope that this will be accomplished. If it isn’t, I still have hope that before too long the right thing will be done.

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            Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.

 

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