At this time of year, we see people getting very excited about Halloween.
Kids and adults alike are flooding the stores, getting their favorite costumes for a night of fright and fun. Haunted houses are filled with screams from scared visitors, hoping to get a good jolt. Yards are being decorated with stuffed scarecrows, witches, and ghosts who all seem to move in the autumn wind. The crackling of leaves and chill in the air give an added feeling of ominousness as one walks through the neighborhood.
One tradition I personally look forward to is watching old monster movies from the 1930’s and 40’s like Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman. These movies scared the daylights out of me when I first saw them. I think I was about 5 or 6 years old. There they were on our big 19-inch TV and I felt like they were right in the room with me. I realize times have changed and many of the things that scared us then, do not necessarily scare us as much these days.
But there are things that can still be frightening. Things that can worry even the best of us, regardless of age. Today it is difficult to avoid seeing images of violence in our world. It’s almost impossible to avoid hearing stories of hatred and doom. We see articles and headlines of war and disaster. Warnings of the earth’s ticking timeline.
We cannot turn our heads without seeing social media postings of bullying, disrespect and racism from high ranking people who should know better. We witness acts of harassment. We see aggression toward people because of their gender, lifestyle, ability, age, culture, and whatever else one can use to label another individual in a prejudicial way.
Treating people with disrespect seems to be a normalcy these days. For some in this world, hurting people now seems to be acceptable behavior.
There are scary things in our world.
Honestly, I wish I had a great answer for changing things for the better. I’d give big money for an “Off Switch” or a “Reset Button.” Something that would clear some of the negative and scary things happening in our world. But, like the rest of us, I cannot personally change everything.
But I can change some things.
While I may not be able to wipe away all of life’s fears and anxieties, I believe there are things that I can do to bring some comfort to our sometimes-scary world.
I can talk about it. I can share the feeling I have about our world and life. If I am feeling scared, I can talk to someone about my fears. If I am angry, I can talk to someone about my anger. Whatever I am feeling, it is always good to talk about it in a healthy way. When we store our feelings inside, they can build and become arduous and difficult to manage. By sharing our feelings, we can often make, what seems overwhelming, manageable.
I can clean up my own yard. It’s going to be so much more of a challenge to change the things I see wrong with the world if I am doing these things myself. If I see hatred as a problem and at the same time, speak hateful toward or about another person, I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem. If I want to see changes in the way people are being treated in the world, then I need to be aware of the ways I am treating people in my neighborhood. Am I against racism in the world, and yet seeing people of other races or cultures in a negative way? Am I against homophobia and yet laughing or joining in on jokes about people with lifestyle choices that differ from mine? Am I against sexual harassment, but objectifying people based on their gender? Do I want to protect the environment, while smoking a cigarette on my way to throw things away that could be recycled? What we do in our own lives is a true reflection of what we are contributing to the world around us.
On that note, I can sure do a lot by making even more effort to promote kindness in our world. Am I telling my friends and family how much they mean to me? Am I showing appreciation for those I appreciate? Do I just assume that the special people in my life know they are special or am I actively telling them so? And what am I doing for the people I have not yet met? When I go to the store, am I ignoring those around me? Or am I smiling at strangers and even saying “Hello?” Am I doing acts of kindness, like buying a coffee for someone behind me at the drive-thru? Am I donating my time and resources to help others? Many times, we can change a negative view of the day, by doing a simple act of kindness.
I can also be more active in the specific things in which I would like to see change. If it’s politics, I can vote. We actually have a very special ability to put our mark on our choices. When I vote, I have a say in our laws and government. When I do not vote, I am choosing to be silent. This can apply to things beyond a voting booth as well. If I see hunger in the world, I can volunteer at a kitchen, or donate to my local food bank. I can give my time and money to places that are helping to change things for the better. I can really talk the talk and walk the walk.
Speaking of walks, I can also walk with God.
In the time when Jesus walked the earth with his disciples, there were many scary things going on. Like today, there were acts of violence and cruelty. Many of the people who followed Jesus were personal witnesses to bullying, repression, and terroristic acts.
The Roman Empire ruled over many of people of various cultures. There was racial persecution. There was viciousness. There was intimidation from a government of bullies. There was sexual harassment and abuse.
Jesus fought the repression, not by meeting hatred with hatred, but by meeting hatred with love.
In a time of violence, Jesus displayed peace. In a time of prejudices, Jesus displayed inclusion. In a time of people in need, Jesus came to the aid of others. In a time of hatred, Jesus shared love. In a time of fear and helplessness, Jesus brought the world compassion and hope.
There are many things for which I can do my part to make the world a better place. And the biggest thing I can do is to follow and strive to be more like Jesus Christ.
When I focus more on Jesus Christ, I focus more on being the person I want to be. I focus more on seeing others in the loving way Christ sees them. I can see that, even with the ugliness in our world, there is beauty in Christ’s love. And when I share the love Christ has for us all, I can see that there is more love in this world. When I spend more time with Christ, I am moved to do more ‘Christ-like’ things in our world. When I spend more time with Christ, I am less frightened.