The last Thursday of November is a day devoted to being filled with thankfulness and finding the good in others. As a resident of the Metro East St. Louis community, in this week of Thanksgiving 2014, the local events are a stark reminder of how many people are neither thankful nor devoted to recognizing the good in others.
There are some people who love darkness, anger and violence and seek to make someone pay for the emptiness inside of them. This is not just a problem in Ferguson, Missouri but a global epidemic. It is the same anger that fuels terrorism, crimes against peaceful citizens and the roiling sewage of violence perpetrated by gangs all over the world. It is in a word, the evil that lives among us.
What can those of us, who want calm and crave peace, do in times of trial such as these? I wish I knew. Let me instead tell you about my morning.
After dropping off my grandson in school I decided to stop by our local Hardees and get a biscuit. I yelled into the speaker set in the box and watched my order appear on the screen. Knowing there was a person on the other end of the speaker getting ready to fill my order I said “Thank-you”. A pleasant voice replied “Thank-you and please pull around for your order.” I pulled up behind another car to await my order. When I stopped at the window, it opened and a young woman said “Hi” as I handed her my order total. She promptly said thank-you and handed me a small paper bag containing my order. I smiled and said “thank-you” in return. As I put my car in gear she said. “Have a nice day.” I replied “You too.”
I thought nothing of this exchange until I looked at the local news online and realized the young woman at the window at Hardees is black. I am white. Yet I saw no rancor in her face, nor did it stop her from observing the pleasantries of the day. I felt nothing but a gush of warmth for our brief but satisfying encounter.
Yes, this world is populated by some people who love darkness, anger and violence and seek someone to pay for the emptiness inside of them. It also a world populated by people like the young lady at Hardees this morning, by people like me who abhor violence, destruction and lashing out at others for problems that can only be solved by owning up to bad behavior and changing bad attitudes and seeking the light instead of the darkness.
Today, even though businesses and cars sit cooling from the hot fires of hatred and violence in Ferguson, Missouri, I am thankful for peace loving people everywhere who always stand on the side of justice. I am thankful that they see the ills of society and don’t thrust the blame onto one party’s shoulders. I am thankful that they always speak truth, and never turn a blind eye to injustice. I am thankful for a smile, a “thank-you” and a “have a nice day” from anyone. I choose being filled with thankfulness even while the world around me seems to be erupting in violence and hatred fills the streets, the airways and splashes across social media like a plague. I choose the light. In that light is Jesus and the answer to solving all the ills of this world. He is the author of peace.