I often feel discouraged with the state of the world. I read the newspaper and watch the evening news report and sometimes I get just plain upset! Why is there so much discord—why can’t people try to get along with each other? Yet, they say that when we point our accusing finger at others there are three fingers of our own hand pointing back to ourselves. So then I have to ask myself—Have I done anything today to be a part of the solution, even if only in my own neighborhood? The hopeless “what’s the use?” mentality is not only defeatist, but it just isn’t a great way to live our lives!
My friend Margaret tells the following story of an incident in her apartment building:
“In our building we have a chat group for residents. We use it for announcements, to sell things, and sometimes to vent our frustrations. A few days ago, a dozen or more people were angry about an opinion expressed in the chat. Ugly, strong, and offensive things were said.
“I was deeply saddened and upset and considered leaving the group.
“Then I had a feeling that this was the wrong reaction, and that I should share my feelings in the chat, even though I seldom participate.
“So I asked God to help me speak in love and courtesy to these people whom I don’t know and can’t identify, even though it’s possible we sometimes ride the elevator together!
“I wrote that it is sad to treat each other this way, that we need to be courteous—there is already so much violence and aggression on the street. We need to be able to return home after a long day and find a refuge of love among us. I also wrote that if we can speak courteously and kindly to each other we will create a climate of security and protection within our building.
“I was expecting a barrage of nasty and cynical replies. But no, there was a general silence and a couple of ‘likes.’ I was thankful for the likes and took the silence as a sign of respect—the subject was now closed.
“I could feel God at work, wanting to restore our hearts. Yesterday I shared in our online group an inspirational quote and thanked everyone for being such good neighbors. This time there were more likes and a couple of people also shared their wishes that we all would enjoy a good day! This was a first!
“Though I had felt timid, I was glad I had offered an alternative to the aggressive criticisms. And once again, a little love goes a long, long way.”
Margaret’s intervention was simple, yet it took a fair amount of courage and effort to say the right words to defuse a potentially complicated situation among the residents of her apartment building. It reminds me of the Bible verse, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.”1
- Proverbs 15:1 NIV