Good morning! It is a beautiful day here. The birds are singing and the sun is rising with such beauty and glory! I am not often awake this early in the morning but I am struggling with an issue that will not let me rest until I write it down.
Let me tell you a story. When calling upon a friend (we'll call him "George"), two boys (we'll call them "Fred and Barney") playfully hid as they waited for George to seek them out after knocking on the door of his home. Fred and Barney were so very excited to be found and welcomed. George had another playmate already there to play (we'll call him "Frank"). As George sought out the two new playmates, Frank followed. Upon discovering Fred, George was so excited to see thim that he hugged him and was jumping up and down, exclaiming how happy he was to see Fred and how much he loved him. Meanwhile, Barney slowly emerged from his hiding place, witnessing the excitement and waiting for George to "find" him too. His face showed the hurt at being "forgotten" by George, who never even acknowledged Barney's presence. What happened next was even more sad. Frank was standing by, just watching all the "hoopla", when George turned to him and spat at him. Frank jerked back as if struck as George proceeded to tell his new buddy (still leaving Barney on his own to join in) about his newfound information that Frank was afraid of dinosaurs. Then all three began making dinosaur noises at Frank to scare him. An adult had to step in to make them stop as it was visibly upsetting Frank. It was a classic example of the natural tendency for the strong (and popular) to attack the weak (and unpopular). We see it in nature with animals all the time. But humanity is called to a higher standard.
"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up."
"Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble."
"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
"And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone."
(1 Thess. 5:14)
We are not a perfect people but we have the ability to reason and this reasoning should equip us to think about our actions and what effects they may have on others. Unfortunately, it seems this is a learned process and many children do not automatically do this. As parents, teachers, or caregivers, we must teach the children to take care with each others' feelings. It is often said that children can be very cruel. But what do we do about it? Can the damage be repaired to the self-image of the child who is often ignored or, worse yet, attacked by other children and/or adults? We have already witnessed the extreme ramifications of what this can do to the minds of some children. The anger and hurt can build up and become unbearable until they erupt in violence toward their tormentors, often injuring innocent (or perceived guilty) bystanders. The emotional injuries do not always end up in violence but they are always there. Speaking from my own perspective, I can tell you that many children will carry these experiences into adulthood and some of the memories will haunt them for the rest of their lives. They become hurdles that are not impossible to overcome ("What is impossible with men is possible with God." Luke 18:27) but are often painful reminders of characteristics that our society has labeled "unacceptable." Not being popular enough, smart enough, pretty or handsome enough, not being thin enough, not being physically strong enough, the list goes on and on of the pressures that we face as children and oftentimes, struggle with throughout our lives. We all want to be loved and accepted. Millions of dollars a year are spent on making ourselves more acceptable to others. Facelifts, liposuction, makeup, fast cars, dieting, hairstyles, keeping in step with the latest fashions, etc. All to try to make ourselves more pleasing to others. Or to make ourselves feel better inside. Even after chasing such fanciful things, there are some who will never be accepted. Are their lives any less valuable then? I cannot believe that! The entire Bible speaks of a God who loves humanity so much that He was willing to die for them. Even though these are well known verses, they have no less meaning now than the time they were first written down! "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:16 & 17)
We may not be perfect but that does not mean we should stop trying to be and do our best. We have become so impatient in our culture that we have little patience and much anger for others who stand in our way or slow us down in any manner. I struggle with this myself and have seen it many times in other people. Somehow we must stop this and teach the generations that follow us a different way.