Someone asked me to explain the theme of this series for Epiphany 2017 in one word. My response is the title – Action. We will revisit verbs, those words in a sentence that denote action, later this year but for now, just know that I am asking you to take part in positive action. Another reader apparently understood the theme but asked “Why?”
Last week four young people were arrested and indicted for their attack on a developmentally disabled classmate of one of the four. The nation and particularly residents in Chicago were outraged. I wondered why. When a person can mock another human being and make their disability part of the reason and justification for mocking, a person who did so in the most public venue possible, news coverage at a press conference for the candidacy for the highest elected office in the country, why, I wondered, are people outraged when young people follow such an example.
Actions have consequences, even for winners. “We are aware of an incident tonight involving Joey Porter,” the statement from Pittsburgh Steelers’ director of communications, Burt Lauten read. “We are still gathering information as it pertains to the situation, and we will have no further comment until we get more details.” Joey Porter is a former professional football player and current outside linebackers coach for the Steelers. He ended the evening last night celebrating the win over the Miami Dolphins in their AFC wildcard play-off by being handcuffed and taken to jail.
Also happening last night were the Golden Globe awards awarded by the Foreign Press Corps, honoring those in the film and television world for their acting and actions. Receiving a lifetime achievement award was Meryl Streep. She briefly identified several in her profession and their varied ethnicities and their roles playing outside of those ethnicities. She remarked about how we are all different and yet all the same. She also mentioned the above-referenced incident of discrimination by then candidate now president-elect Donald Trump and his performance on the occasion of his mocking a reporter with cerebral palsy. “There was nothing good about it, but it did its job,” she said. “It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out my head because it wasn’t in a movie, it was in real life. That instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in a public platform, it filters down into everyone’s life because it gives permission for others to do the same. … Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence insights violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”
There are only twenty-four hours in a day but we need to use each of them for good and not waste them, letting them get lost in our own egos and fear. We cannot do everything and instantly cure the world of all its ill but we can all do something. Each of those little somethings will, much like the snowflakes we discussed over the weekend, come together to make something beautiful.
You effect change on this planet with each breath you take. You matter and your presence makes an imprint on the lives of others. Why do I encourage you to take positive action? Julia Butterfly Hill has the answer: “The question is not ‘Can you make a difference?’ You already do make a difference. It’s just a matter of what kind of difference you want to make, during your life on this planet.”