Freedom is important to us. Our freedom of thought. Our freedom of choice. Our freedom of expression. With summer that has come to the Northern hemisphere, I have noticed that our freedom to travel becomes particularly valuable as many of us choose to take a break from our regular routine.
One freedom that fascinates me is our freedom to exercise control over ourselves and choose to live with civility in our society. When our choices are made within the boundaries of the golden rule, our family and our friends, our neighborhoods and our world benefit. When we treat others in the same way that we would want to be treated, gentleness becomes noticeable. The sharp edges within which we move softens when we choose to see others through the lens of empathy. This is a choice we are free to make.
Freedom is important to us. Yet, we are never entirely free. Seasons come and go without our choice in the matter. Weather patterns are not ours to choose. This past week a terrible winter storm hit the Southern tip of Africa. There has been devastating wind and rain, flooding, out-of-control fires, snow and icy temperatures. This land that I love has been pummeled by forces of nature, none of which the people of the land chose. But, within the circumstances, people get to choose how they will respond.
I have seen the best of choices.
People from within the country have stood together, neighbor helping neighbor, taking those left destitute into their homes. Those in the battle against the flames have been flooded with support. Communities from afar have sent supplies to those in need. Humanity helping humanity.
Why do we choose this? Exactly because we are human. We choose empathy. We know that very easily the storm could be at our own door. The fire could be on our roof. Easy devastation could come to our lives. When it passes us by and visits another, we do unto them as we would want it done unto us. If we were drowning or hungry or cold, we would want others to notice. If our children were threatened by fire and loss, we would want others to protect. Our empathy is what makes us human.
When we choose to live with civility, we reflect our Creator in whose image we are made.
To all those who have stood alongside us during this time of crisis, I thank you. Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
The hurt is not yet over and many lives are still facing severe hardship.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you … Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:31+36