Just When I Thought I Had Things Figured Out…

I thought I had everything figured out, but obviously not. As soon as I breathed a sigh of relief, there’s a school shooting, a supermarket or church massacre, an insurrection, or an assault on everything we know and hold dear. As a civilized people, what are we doing wrong?

Are too many of us asleep at the wheel—the wheels that allow us to live in harmony and peace? The other day I was trying to get home to take a nap, but the traffic light was longer than usual. When the cars behind me started honking their horns, I realized that I had nodded off.

I quickly but safely made my way home and a much-needed rest, but I believe that lack of attention to what was going on around me isn’t just happening to me. I think we have been lulled to sleep by how things used to be

We elected honest and honorable people to represent us (mostly). We reached out to our neighbors—we actually knew what they looked and sounded like—we listened to all sides of the argument and decided what made sense and we left the extremes to the extremists.

Nowadays the agenda seems to be win at all costs, say whatever gets you a soundbite for the evening news cycle, spew hatred and dissension, kill innocents, instill fear and mayhem in as many places as possible. My friends, we must wake up and ask the tough questions.

Does this point of view make sense? Do my extreme views harm my brothers and sisters? Is this the right thing to do? Can I sleep with this decision?

My father would gently remind me often that if I chose to be mean and nasty during the day, I shouldn’t expect to sleep soundly that night. He reminded me that my conscience had to be clear, and he said how I treated others is how they would treat me. Then he’d quote Proverbs 22:1: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

I never forgot that lesson and every day I work hard to be honest, honorable, true to my word, and for some crazy reason, I expect everyone else to live by those same lessons.

As we watched the Buffalo, NY shooting unfold, I kept coming back to this question: what in the world had someone done to this young man that filled him with such hatred? I also wondered how Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife co-existed in their home when she was clearly advocating for law breaking while he was supposed to be upholding it.

I pray the January 6th Commission successfully gets to the bottom of the scary events from that fateful day 18 months ago. As those events unfolded, I was shaken to my core. I’m still not quite right since unsettling details continue to emerge.

Everything we hold dear—freedom—in all its forms, justice—as uneven as it sometimes is, civility, honesty, how we treat one another—these are non-negotiables. We must protect the rule of law and sift through the lies and rhetoric to get at the truth—the real truth, not someone’s warped version of it.

Today offers another opportunity to do what my friend Martha Campbell advocates: scatter sunshine. We can care more—and we must, otherwise hatred and chaos win. Our generations deserve a world where every person is valued, treated with dignity and respect, and they can come and go without fear of dying while doing routine chores. Can I get an amen?

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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