“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” — Robert Kennedy
After starting a small storm of theological discussion over the meaning of Jesus’s words on the cross from the Gospel of mark, I’ll try to write something a bit more uplifting today.
In an earlier meditation, Dad asked us to look outside ourselves and ask, what can I do to help? The quote above from Robert Kennedy perfectly describes the results of such action. This is not an easy time to live. No matter what your faith, class, or political persuasion we all have some good to offer mankind. God’s call to us isn’t just to use our gifts for our own greater glory, but to the greater glory of humanity. It isn’t enough that we serve God, we must serve each other as well.
In making the movie “The Great Dictator” Charlie Chaplin chose to take a risk and use his amazing gift of filmaking and humor to point out the growing danger of fascism and anti-semitism in Europe. He did so at great risk to his career and his reputation, but he took the risk, he used God’s gifts for action in order to help save humanity. Here is the first part of his closing monologue from the movie. Read it and ask yourself, am I using the gifts given to me to help humanity? What risks have I not taken and why not?
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone, and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.” – The Great Dictator