If the people in and around Greater Rome are any indication, then we’re in fine shape. Based on repeated evidence similar to that easily found locally, the same pretty much holds true of every nook and cranny in the land.
Americans always seem to be at their best when the chips are down, such as seeing neighbors’ lives being washed away by huge floods even while most of us are hurting ourselves, if not up against the financial wall, from the economy nose diving.
When there’s trouble to be seen — not only hungry or homeless families, not only neighbors hit by natural disasters but even individual instances of harsh illness or bad luck — Greater Romans, Georgians and Americans rally round to help, soften the blow, give money, do whatever they can.
One notes that at the recent, annual Jesus in the Park religious celebration at Ridge Ferry Park, organized by the youth of Trinity United Methodist Church and at which Rome Action Ministries gave free food boxes to more than 1,500 families, the motto was a quotation from Irish/British author C.S. Lewis: “When all is said, and truly said, concerning the division of Christianity, there remains, by the Grace of God, an enormous common ground.”
ACTUALLY, that applies to all humanity as this sort of response can be seen throughout the world on a regular basis. So can hate and cruelty, of course, which receive more publicity, but in actuality the “common ground” and charitable instincts are far greater, more regularly seen and thus, of course, less “newsworthy.”
That’s a shame, for there are so many, both individually and as part of the organizations to which they belong, that deserve more recognition — even while never asking for such. It’s not just Christians either but all faiths, nor are non-believers absent from such ranks.
Heck, even government generally performs magnificently when push-comes-to-shove in calamities befalling citizens although it is the failures, such as Hurricane Katrina, that always get the analysis rather the successes, which are actually routine.
It warrants notice, and not being taken for granted, how well emergency responders perform, including their civilian aides. It deserves attention that the Red Cross and similar are always second on the scene after the police, firemen, paramedics, emergency crews. It should be a matter of general pride that so many individuals, businesses, churches, civic organizations rush to fill whatever breach or need might be detected.
OH SURE, many just sit and watch unfolding events on television or otherwise don’t become directly involved. However, even many of those drop a check in a mail, add cans to a food drive or simply understand, and appreciate, that the expenditure of funds and time, public and private, are warranted and needed.
There is, as in that quotation from Lewis, “an enormous common ground” that serves all of mankind as dry land in any flood, a safe place in any calamity, a fortress against any onslaught.
Lewis, perhaps best known for his seven-volume children’s epic, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” is perhaps the best-known of the “civilian” advocates of Christianity, making some of the strongest, most intellectual arguments on its behalf after going from atheism to belief. (His “The Screwtape Letters” are actually his most important work, although we’re not sure supposed demonic instruction on how to assure the damnation of man is required classroom reading any longer ... or even necessary for the little imps when looking around.)
Yet, most of Lewis’ observations apply equally to any religion or, perhaps, any reliance upon “the better nature of man.”
Lewis elsewhere observed that “Badness is only spoiled goodness.” In other words, the goodness we were born with or is instinctive; the badness is learned behavior.
OUR ERA PAYS much attention to the badness, so much so that it becomes too easy to forget that it is only the spoiled condition of something that is better in all the rest of us.
We all live in a place — this community, this state, this country, even this world — where most people can be relied upon to do what they can for others in distress.
That’s good. That’s wonderful. That’s even better than figuring out health care or ending wars because it says something awfully important about goodness.
It’s good to know that we have friends out there, even though we may not actually know them. Or, as Lewis once put it: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art ... it has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival.”
Sometimes we tend to forget. It is important to remember. It should give us all hope no matter how dark the world can sometimes look to us as individuals.