The massacre in Las Vegas is devastating, but will anyone be surprised if churches are planning another prayer vigil in a month? When the NRA came out in favor of restricting bump stocks — the device that makes semi-automatic weapons act like automatic weapons — I thought it was a hopeful change. Then I learned that bump stocks are one of the few items related to guns on which the NRA makes no money. They are not thinking about human lives. They are still thinking about money.
The reaction to Hurricane Maria turned a disaster where 34 people died into a story about racism. The generosity of those who rushed to Puerto Rico to help got less attention than the suspicion that the official responses to Harvey and Irma were more rapid because more white Americans were affected. Also lost was the much-needed conversation about how climate change is contributing to tropical storms.
The supreme leader of North Korea is unbalanced and unhinged. Our leader has responded by threatening to “totally destroy North Korea.” Shouldn’t we be more shocked when the president threatens to kill 24 million people? Trying to look tough cannot be more important than avoiding a war that takes innocent lives.
Many of us are exhausted, sad and angry. We do not need the power of positive thinking or Pollyanna optimism. We need strength. We need hope. We need God.
When the world is hard, we have to look harder. We are detectives searching for clues. Hope does not shout, but if we listen carefully we hear whispers. Hopeful things are happening, but we have to pay attention.
- A child in California gave a firefighter a hug.
- A congressperson had second thoughts about assault rifles.
- A relief worker in Puerto Rico handed a bottle of water to someone who was thirsty. He did not throw paper towels.
- A diplomat from North Korea and a diplomat from the United States shared a pizza.
- A 60-year-old ordered his morning coffee in Spanish for the first time.
- A white NFL player asked an African-American player why he was kneeling during the anthem, and listened to the response.
- A black judge acquitted a white racist of a false murder charge.
- A white police officer asked a black teenager how the police could be more helpful.
- A Christian minister asked an imam to talk to her church’s youth group.
- A senior citizen who has never been to a protest marched in support of immigrants.
- An office manager sent a memo to the CEO pointing out that women are still paid less than men.
- A father who thinks of himself as old school told his gay son how proud he is.
- A cashier took a bite of his grilled cheese, and then stopped to say grace.
- A homeless veteran went to a church for dinner and a good night’s sleep.
- A composer sitting at her piano found the right note. It was C sharp.
- A 6-year-old heard the story of the Prodigal Son for the first time.
- A shopper at a car dealership decided to buy a hybrid.
- A neighbor talked to an elderly woman sitting on her porch.
- A first semester college student fell in love, with Emily Dickinson.
- A sophomore changed his major to social work.
- A visitor to an art museum looked at a Cezanne and was grateful.
- An angry man started to make an angry phone call, but then hung up.
- A book group picked Anne Lamott for their next book.
- A fan at a Bruce Springsteen concert believed again.
- A scientist who usually watches MSNBC watched Fox News and thought, “I can understand how someone would feel that way.”
- A bald man decided that hair is overrated.
- A preschooler learned to tie his shoes.
- A mother gave in and got her 8-year-old a puppy.
- A couple going through a divorce decided to put the children first.
- An architect received a text from an old friend inviting her to lunch.
- A cabdriver picked up a fare in a wheelchair and took her to the grocery store for free.
- A doctor told an artist that she is going to have a girl.
- A retired teacher laughed out loud for the first time since his wife’s death.
The world’s problems are devastating, so we keep looking for hope. We do not need to pretend everything is okay. We need to pay attention to the hope that surrounds us.