But making a difference is getting more difficult. Even just a few years ago I could not have imagined the world in which we are living right now. From increased violence to borderline nuclear disaster and global catastrophe the news seems to get worse by the day. Destructive weather events are on the increase, we are experiencing mass shootings almost every other day and children are no longer safe at school. How can an individual offer hope in a world like this?
Nothing has made this more clear than events in my own community over the past two months. California’s largest wildfire produced a situation resulting in a debris flow which nearly destroyed one of the most beautiful places on earth and taking with it 21 lives. Two children have yet to be found. And with the ongoing drought there is no certainty that this sort of thing won’t happen again.
In the face of things like that having hope is getting harder and it’s getting easier and easier to believe that we have no control over the world in which we live. Is there anything we can do? The answer is a resounding yes.
The first step is to stop believing that you are alone in wanting a better world. I firmly believe that a majority of people in the world want and are willing to work towards making the world a better place. Even if as an individual we may not be able to institute change, in the company of others we certainly can. From the ballot box to strongly supporting organizations pledged to help we can and will make a difference.
In knowledge there is strength. The Red Cross has three phases to disaster; Prepare, Respond and Recover. Individuals and communities of faith should have these as well. Individuals should be trained in CPR and First Aid, including bullet wound treatment. Join community organizations like VOAD and CERT. Know about resources like ICTG and those in your community. And we all should be constantly aware of our surroundings and have contingency plans at all times.
Institutions should designate an individual with disaster concerns and make them members of the leadership team. Numerous suggestions for preparedness are downloadable from FEMA in their Guide for Developing High Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Housed of Worship and from ICTG's downloadable guidelines and training pages. And create ongoing relationships with other communities of faith and share resources with each other and with your community. By so doing you and your congregation will become sources of hope.
Hope is always a possibility. It may be harder these days but it isn’t impossible. Come and join with us in making a difference.