I will not sit in complacency. Stand on the sidelines. Be the bystander. Have you heard of the bystander effect? It’s a psychology term about when a large group of people are together. They say that the more people, the less the reaction.
In other words, a person has a stroke in the park. The friend starts yelling for help. If there are multitudes of people around, everyone will assume someone else is assisting. Or they ignore the incidence altogether.
Isn’t that where we are today? People sitting in their pretty houses. Hoping for the latest gadgets and gizmos. Gazing at picture after picture. Stumbling across one that shows a starving child in Africa. Donating a few dollars to feel better about themselves.
God calls them to fully surrender their lives to Him. Not be the bystander. Maybe not being called to live in a hut in Africa and feed children. Called instead to a mission field where they are at. To their callings.
Finding the place where heart, passion, and work coexist. The combination that makes the world stop and looks. A place where Jesus says “you’re right where you’re supposed to be”. Maybe it’s in a grocery store – giving a smile, checking out groceries. Or a law firm – extending a kind word and serving Jesus while those around you drink away life. Maybe a political office where everyone around you lies while you speak the truth.
Stepping out of complacency and into the fullness of you calling is inspiring. To yourself and others. The United States needs that more than ever. Last weekend I stepped into a war zone – St. Louis. They say third world countries have war zones. Exploring the streets of the city I grew up in, new signs were noticed everywhere. Signs saying “We have to stop killing each other” and “Black Lives Matter”. Leaving for a safer side of town after gunshots started going off in the early night hours in the neighborhood I grew up in while I stood outside.
The story goes on and on… An abandoned city. Late night downtown revealed only a friend and me. Homeless people appeared to loiter the streets where no one else dared to be. The blinking police boxes on every, single corner indicating a high crime area. Apparently a couple of weeks before military tanks, the national guard, and cop cars lining the streets. Abandoned buildings of people fleeing. Terrified of riots, destruction, and death.
This is in the United States. While we feast our eyes on the latest movies. Hide our hearts behind hours of overtime. Another half of the States exist. Children ducking because they hear a loud bang but think they’re getting shot. Men sitting with homeless signs on a corner downtown because the military used them. Then, the country they served throw them aside because they can’t handle the moments they experienced. Women crying in bed – fearing rape again. They know their rapists will never be caught because no one will ever look for him.
Black lives. White lives. Hispanic lives. Immigrant lives. All important but so ignored. A country with voting rights. Who has time to vote when they’re fighting for survival? Living in abandoned cities. Areas where those with more money would not want to spend a moment. Places not even known to the other half.
I was one of those kids. Living in abandoned cities. Running off the bus at the end of the school day because neighborhood boys set the garage on fire. Hearing of a girl on my block being kidnapped. A body that still hasn’t been found. Sitting in the living room watching helicopter lights scour the backyards looking for someone. Expecting someone to break into your house in the middle of the night. Because it wouldn’t be the first time someone broke in. Waiting for the ceiling to hit your bed. Since the building is so old and that’s happened before.
There was another side though. A mom who spent every night reading. Taking me to far away lands where these things didn’t exist. A dad who spent hours working to make sure my sister and I could go to a tiny, Christian private school. People in that school who showed Jesus’ love and made their home our home. Teachers in an elementary school who told a little girl she was smart and put her in gifted classes. Women who took a young mom under their wing and helped her be a mother.
Each person knew they had a special role. Imagine if one person hadn’t fulfilled that role. Maybe that girl would still be in the same place. Stuck in a constant cycle. Someone followed their calling. Lived where they were and pulled someone up to their level. Reached down and pulled up.
I refuse to be the girl who sits back and forgets about the other half. Instead, I want to reach down and pull others up. Do more than pull up a person. Reach down, pull up another, and teach them to do the same. Teach the “leaders to be leaders”. Be the dream – giver. Show them to give to the communities they came from. For the other half, exposing them to the world they never knew existed. I pray every person discovers their calling and how they can influence the community for the better.