Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Peace is possible

Late this afternoon, I went to the grocery store, intending to whip in and out in a hurry. The check-out line slowed me down. As I stood there impatiently waiting my turn, I noticed a father and son, also waiting. They were snarling at each other.

The boy, about nine or ten years old, was hanging back at the end of the nearest aisle, his arms crossed defiantly, while the angry father was almost to the check-out counter. The boy muttered, “I hate …(something inaudible), and I always will!”

The man glared and pointed at him and said, a little too loudly, “Shut up. You. Now.”
Then he took hold of the boy’s arm and jerked him closer. Both angrily frowning, they cast mean looks at each other without saying anything more. As they left the store, the boy walked some distance behind the man, his arms still crossed. The man, of course, was much larger than the boy and could have ripped him to pieces; maybe he did, later. They got into a car with a woman who appeared oblivious and drove away.

I thought about Martin Luther King, whose life and dream we celebrated yesterday. King knew that the heart cannot be won by force, anger, and violence. Those who are weak may find that they have to cooperate with an overbearing, stronger force in order to survive—but only because they have been overpowered. Their hearts will smolder and eventually burst into flame.

And I thought about the example of Jesus Christ, who through love and sacrificial living gives hope and a promise of peace, even in the middle of the turmoil of living. Through Christ, that little boy in the grocery store could grow up to be whole, able to love and be loved. But without Him, the boy may never get beyond anger.

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