“I believe kids oughta stay kids as long as they can; turn off the screen, go climb a tree, get dirt on their hands; I believe we gotta forgive and make amends cause nobody gets a second chance to make new old friends; I believe in working hard for what you’ve got even if it don’t add up to a hell of a lot … " – Luke Bryan
Given what’s happening around us, you may think I’ve gone bonkers when I tell you I still believe there are far more good people populating this world than bad. With a national media mired deeply in its own muck, we don’t hear much about the good ones, but they exist. Matter of fact, many of them live right here in Waxahachie. There are also plenty in places like Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Akron and even Washington, D.C. – places I once called home. It isn’t unusual however to lose sight of the good especially when the sights and sounds emanating from the bad are as twisted and loud as they are today. Of course, no one is perfect and all of us need the grace God offers as we navigate a fragile society wrought with danger. The tragedy, given the lack of any productive purpose coming from an ever-increasing number of people with lousy intent on their minds, is that the fragility we’re experiencing seems to permeate more and more communities. Unless good folks in this world get serious about having greater influence than those creating the danger, the country will morph into one big land of both literal and figurative explosiveness.
Dominating society today are the actions of what is a tiny percentage of people in this country who, whether due to a complete disregard for decency or any degree of care for others or a serious void of historical understanding, are tearing down and burning anything they can. Destroying statues, most of which those doing the destroying have little knowledge of, is as counter to making a difference in America as any act there is. Assaulting police officers, most of whom are admirable, respectable people, is antithetical to the very result those doing the assaulting are hoping to achieve. Burning businesses down only makes matters worse, especially for those dependent on the retailers being put out of business. And, killing innocent people who simply happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time is not only criminal, it is the original act that provoked the madness we now see devouring the country 24/7. Taking over six blocks of what was a beautiful American city in the name of uncontrolled anarchy is as disconnected from the death of George Floyd as we could imagine. It is also blatantly stupid.
Much of the blame for the downward spiral in which we can, if we’re not careful, find ourselves swirling rests at the feet of those we’ve attached the label “leader.” We can see what the impact of lousy leadership looks like in Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and NYC … to name a few. Each is a city overwhelmed with problems bigger than those responsible for solving them can handle. Those people, after all, are the ones at the center of the problem’s origin. Same thing can be said for some states in America. If any of us ever doubted the importance of quality local leadership, compare Waxahachie to Seattle. Sure, there are differences but proportionately the potential for greatness or failure is the same. Leadership always matters and so does the collective desire to either grow and prosper or permeate our communities with contempt and conflict. Instead of wasting time on destructive acts, people here are committed to addressing real problems with real conviction and the objective of producing real solutions. That’s as it should be across the country.
Good people must participate for greatness to be achieved in any endeavor. Good people must have the courage to be influential rather than enabling those who inflict strife and chaos to be the influencers in society. People who adhere to the rule of law and who seek to contribute in positive ways are what’s needed, especially in times like the country finds itself today. Attempting to erase history, whether good or bad, is an attempt to erase that which either we learn from and improve or that which has made America the light of the world. As people, the scars we accumulate throughout life are signs of what make us who we are and while we’d prefer to have not experienced what caused those scars, there’s no way to live life without getting them. Same goes for a country. Erasing mistakes of the past sets us up to repeat them. Good people are, in part, good because they are able to grasp the lessons of their past mistakes and thereby are not only likely to avoid such mistakes again but are also well-suited to keep others from the same kind of fate. It is no different for America.
Those tearing apart the country today are of every color, every background and every walk of life. Their commonality is found on the inside, not the outside. If the heart’s desire is to destroy then folks will destroy. If the heart’s desire is to put down tools of destruction and find the kind of unity America so desperately needs then unity has a chance. If leaders seek to guide, inspire and serve then the country will be led to a place of greatness. If, on the other hand, leaders seek to inflame, fracture and obtain personal power the country will remain where it is today. We were created by a God who designed everyone and everything for good. It is to that design we must return and stay. In doing so, we have the opportunity to be the kind of America that offers everyone a chance for success and that holds people accountable for their actions, especially the bad. Scorching earth might be a cause but it is a cause without a purpose. It is also a colossal waste of time. Finding ways to have a better community, better schools, better neighborhoods and better people is not only a worthy cause, it is one that has the best kind of purpose.
It is in that purpose we should invest our energy.
Scott Brooks is the Publisher of the Waxahachie Sun and may be reached by email at email@example.com.