Isaiah records an inspiring vision for anyone looking beyond or above their current circumstances, of life or heart: "Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (40.31). That's a passage that has lifted my heart a lot of times, especially when facing uncertain times or in some personal griefs.
However, I've also found that I can't exactly just grab that verse and leap into the blue with it, as if I were hang gliding off the Hawai'ian cliffs, or like Wile E. Coyote test-flying a new contraption designed to give him the latest advantage over the Roadrunner. Hope and inspiration lifting your heart are one thing; grabbing hope and insisting that it transport you above the clouds is a taller order. A few years ago, millions of hearts in this country soared on the idea of "the audacity of hope", and on the promise of fresh, positive change; fast-forward to recent times, and more and more of those same people are more or less clicking the teevee remote in growing exasperation, hoping they can change a lot of the disillusionment and frustration they're experiencing from those hopes being repeatedly dashed or frustrated.
Or betrayed. Talk about slamming down to earth, like the coyote inevitably does when his contraption fails or backfires. I won't use this space to slog through the quagmire of political moves, countermoves, inability to move, or failures-to-move that the nation has been mired in over the last couple of years and more: I'm sure you've heard and read enough about it already to spoil your appetite for any more. (But wait ... there's more! Yay, we can't wait.) And this column really isn't about politics anyway, but about us, what we do when our wings fold up under us.
So what do we do, give up? Nah, people's nature is usually not to give up. (That's how we've made it these 100,000 years or more as a species, and is why certain teams go on forever even if they never win the World Series.) What then? Lean over the back fence (read: post on any Facebook page, or news story, or blog we come across) and gripe back and forth with our neighbors, maybe getting into a spat about how It wouldn't be nearly so bad if ... or We could get ourselves out of this mess if ... or We wouldn't have gotten into this in the first place if ... ? Sure, why not, it's a national pastime, though it's better over a real fence, and even better if you invite your neighbor over and there's BBQ involved. But aside from blowing off steam and maybe having some good BBQ and beer, what does that accomplish? (Okay, I know that BBQ and beer can be worthwhile ends in themselves, but that's also another matter.)
I know, vote! send petitions! start whole new blogs or Facebook pages! dream up ways to rally people in genuine grassroots movements, not like, you know, those Astroturf tea party things, but real grassroots movements! ... Wait, you might be onto something. What was that last thing you said? Grassroots. Yeah, but what was that other word you used ...? "Tea party"? Eww, no! Something starting with "d". .... Dream ...?
THAT'S IT!!! ... sorry for shouting. Dream. Dream up ways. Look at what people in this country have put their hopes in, and what they've been frustrated by: hopes for change that someone else presented to them. And of course, look at what's happened: people beating futilely against an invisible barrier to try to make those dreams become reality, like a bird on a window; or else feeling it's all just dropped right out from under them, like ... well, you know who.
Yeah. We've been hoping in someone else's dream, or promise of it anyway. Or hoping for someone else to make that dream come true for us. It's kind of like grabbing hold of even that promise from Isaiah, and having it fold underneath us in midair. What's wrong? No one else can do the soaring for us, that's what. The way a dream or vision becomes reality is when you and I take wing with it, no matter what anyone else does or doesn't do about it.
Am I just drifting off into unrealistic idealisticspeak? I'm not meaning to; actually, anything begins with a dream, vision, or idea, that someone just did something about. The computer you're reading this on; the chair or sofa or bed you're sitting on; those cartoon pics in this article; everything you see around you, including who you see in the mirror and what you see out the window. It was either some human's idea, or God's idea, or both. So dreams and visions aren't unrealistic; that's how life actually happens all the time.
Start dreaming up ways to change the world. Don't wait for someone else to dish up hope or change (although, obviously, appreciate and make the most of it if they do!); take examples from other people you've seen actually do something ... start a cause, get a group going, find out who to focus on with any articles or letters or petitions, start asking around to find out about people who might be interested in helping (and especially if they have the connections or resources to add to the mix). Dream up ways to bring your dream to reality.
And whatever you do, don't let anyone dump on your dream with something like this:
LONG WALK OFF A SHORT PIER. It'll never work. You don't have the resources. You don't know where to start. You don't know what to do or how to get there. You don't, you can't, you won't. Bleagh. Phooey. So what if you don't know what to do? Neither do most other people who have an idea, vision, or dream; they set out anyway, and discover it all, or make it up, as they go. How do we change our country, or the world, the way a lot of people hoped to do a couple of years ago? Haven't the foggiest. But I do know who can change it ... it's you and me and every other person whose heart was soaring a few years ago with the hope that the world could change.
It's not that it "can't" happen; it's just that we were counting on someone else doing the soaring, when it really always happens from us. Hey, wait a minute ... I remember something about a guy being commended (or sometimes poked fun at) for having been a community organizer. Look at what that actually is: did "he" do any of the changing in any community? Maybe helped draw them together ... but it's always the community that does the real changing, no one does it for them. They catch a dream, a vision, and they do the soaring.
Well, that's who is waiting to do the changing, to bring the hope, this time, today, now. No dream has died, or fallen flat out of the sky, or in any other way been squashed. It's actually still as alive as we are, as alive as we want it to be, and it can stretch its wings and head toward takeoff any time we're ready for it to.
Dream up what you can, talk with other people who dream, watch the examples of people who have brought their dreams into reality (or are still in the process), join ranks with likeminded dreamers, join hands and link arms and band a lot of those dreams together to make a broader dream for more people. Nobody changes the whole world at once, of course; they just keep figuring out a step at a time. Nobody sees a whole plan or vision at once, or draws up plans for a building at one sitting, or plans anything else in one step, let alone does or builds it in one step; every dream is a kind of construction project. The world has always changed ... for better or worse ... on the power of ideas and dreams, and every dream is a process, not a sudden event. But don't let someone else do the dreaming ... unless you catch it yourself, spread those wings, and really make that dream yours now. You know what the real difference is between Martin Luther King, jr., or Gandhi, or Mother Teresa, and you?
Nothing. Yes, of course every person's circumstances and resources are different; but different, that's the point. It's not as if there's some magic formula, where life has to line up in a certain way for some vision or dream to unfold; people, whoever they are, with whatever is at hand, speak out, stand up, draw others together, make their dream contagious, and in whatever way they can dream up, they do something about it. And keep doing it, and learning how to do it as they go. That's really all.
The rest is called flying.
(Post submitted by featured blogger, Roger Smith, who also blogs at Roger's Shrubbery)
Shane Duran - Guest Blogger
You know the type. Always out there campaigning for "peace not war," for refugees, for human rights and the list goes on. Do Gooders! Usually those left wing, chardonnay sipping types who have adopted John Lennon's “Imagine” as their manifesto.
Do Gooders! Defined by the Free Online Dictionary as “naive idealists who support philanthropic or humanitarian causes or reforms.”
The term "do gooder" is often used disparagingly by conservative voters to criticize those of us who actually believe that people can and should live together in peace, that people deserve to be treated with dignity - "to do to others as we would have them do to us." Oh, isn't that a quote from the bible? Yes, actually. Jesus said it in Matthew 7:12.
Could it be that Jesus was a Do Gooder? After all, he saved that adulteress from being stoned by an angry mob, even though stoning is what the law called for. Could it be that Jesus wasn't too hung up on punishment, but on delivering mercy, compassion, justice and love?
Man, what a Do Gooder!
But then He was the Son of God! Perhaps that excuses his mild and meek, do gooder attitude! Although mild and meek doesn't explain Jesus at all. It was He who threw the money changers out of the temple for perverting the place of God.
Jesus came to save us from damnation, from Hell, from condemnation. The world is in balance. Physically and Spiritually. Physical balance was described by Isaac Newton with his three laws of motion; you know, equal and opposite forces etc., etc.
Spiritually the world is in balance too: God and Satan, Heaven and Hell, sin and payment for sin. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. Spiritual death. Spiritual death being eternal separation from God. You sin, you go to Hell. One way to pay for sin was a blood sacrifice, usually a lamb, but that is so Old Testament. Jesus became the Lamb of God and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, even going to Hell and rising 3 days later from death. This is why we say that Christians are saved. We are saved from Hell because Jesus went there in our place. We deserved to go Hell, but God through his love for us showed us grace that we did not deserve by sending Jesus to pay for our sins. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17).
What has this to do with Do Gooders?
Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us exactly what this has to do with Do Gooders:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
What are these good works that God has prepared for us?
These are just some of the good works that we have been called to do:
* Spread the good news. Gospel literally means "good news". What better way to do good than to spread good news. Matthew 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you ...". One of those things we should be teaching, is to do good!
* Caring for the poor, the oppressed, the widow, the stranger. There are over 2,000 scriptures which refer to caring for the poor. When the bible refers to the stranger, it means strangers in the land: travelers, immigrants, refugees! The parable of the sheep and the goats, described in Matthew 25:31-46 which is summarized in verse 34-35 "inherit the kingdom prepared for you ... for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to Me."
* Making peace, not war. In the beatitudes which Jesus delivered in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-11), He says "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
* Love everyone. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus explains that the law is summed up in two great commandments: "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind ... and ... you shall love your neighbour as yourself ". It doesn't say to love your neighbor if they are the same color and religion as you. Love your neighbor!
Just to clarify. We are not saved by good works, but to do good works!
Why has the role of Do Gooder been left to the left wing? Why are conservatives and the religious right so opposed to Do Gooders? This isn't to say that the left is perfect and the right is going to hell. The right wing certainly have their virtues as do the left wing. The issue is with using Do Gooder as an insult, when it should be a compliment.
Christians are by commandment of God, called to be Do Gooders and we should be leading the way in doing good works, we should be teaching the world how to do good.
About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is the founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit. Guest bloggers featured often.