“Even a common ordinary brick wants to be something bigger than itself,” said one of the actors in the movie “Indecent Proposal.” These words, I believe, describe the desire of the human spirit.”
I believe we all want to feel that we’ve made a difference in someone’s life or contributed to the betterment of a person, family or noble cause. And by doing so, it makes us a part of something bigger than ourselves, and that’s the way I believe life was intended to be.
However, when anyone in a family or society attempts to live in isolation, without regard for anyone else, the person and society suffers the consequences.
If, for example, we each imagine ourselves as bricks joined together to create the foundation of a home, when a large section of brick is cracked, jolted out of place and damaged, such as may happen in an earthquake, it impacts the stability of the entire foundation and everything resting upon it. And depending on how long the damaged foundation goes without repair, it further weakens over time, becomes unstable, and dangerous – just like damaged and hurting people and animals left to themselves without medical attention.
Whereas, a problem that could have been remedied without harm to others becomes a death trap to many – all because of the homeowner’s failure to acknowledge and respond to a known safety risk.
The scenario of the damaged brick foundation highlights a few of the deeper issues involved in much of the craziness – mass violence, racism and all those other “isms” in our society and world – caused by damaged, hurting people who have been left to themselves to do whatever, without intervention. It also reveals the fact that damaged though some people may be, they still have an impact on our society as a part of the whole of humanity, just like those damaged foundation bricks we’ve been referring to.
Therefore, it’s important that we understand and consider the impact of allowing our damaged, hurting and/or emotionally broken sisters and brothers to roam aimlessly in their pain without attempting an intervention. Intervention can take many forms but needs to come from a heart of love, meaning we take appropriate action that will both be “good to” and do what’s “good for” the person and society.
Damaged and hurting people will need our love – not necessarily our friendship, as love will give them what they need regardless of their behavior. And sometimes loving them may mean reporting them to the police, a pastor, a guidance counselor at a school or someone else who cares about the person’s wellbeing.
If we simply befriend them, and they begin acting crazy, we just may give them “the middle finger” and walk away. As in our example of the damaged bricks, overlooking their need further damages them and could place others at risk, and that’s what we want to avoid. We need look no further for proof than the shootings in Parkland, Florida; Columbine, Colorado; or Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where three promising students were killed several years ago over a parking dispute or worse – prejudice.
Although the story of the brick foundation is only an example, it shows us how things can go bad when we think that we are not our brother’s and sister’s keeper, and when we think people can be damaged privately and not be damaging in public. What is festering inside a person will at some point show up externally – in public life. (Read what was festering inside the Columbine shooters.)
While bricks may be interconnected by mortar, our families and society are connected by blood, love, sacrifice and a God who created us all.
So, regardless of our ability or disability, gender, race or creed, we remain a part of something (many things) bigger than ourselves: the family of God, the human race (the only race God created) and our family and friends. Our place in each of these circles matters, as does each brick in the hypothetical brick foundation.
From the poor house to the White House, and all points in between, this perspective should guide our interactions with each other to ensure we never disregard or dehumanize any human being. At the moment that we stop seeing people as human, flesh and blood with loved ones and feelings, hopes and desires, then we begin to churn out a society of mass murderers, terrorists, human traffickers and slave traders. And we, by God’s design, are better than all of that, although we have not always been a nation or world that acted according to our true identity as people created in the likeness of God.
As we go further into 2018 and approach the end of Black History Month, I challenge everyone to move forward with awareness and sensitivity to what is right and true for you, as well as thoughtfulness and empathy for others whose journeys may be totally different from our own. And finally, move forward in prayer and oversight for our damaged and hurting fellow human beings – pledging to love them enough to play some small role in preventing/minimizing suffering and harm to themselves, and especially to others.