GENDUSA COLUMN: For the good of others

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, March 23, 2022

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It was a sun-drenched day Saturday as the end of winter blew away, and spring began to show its magic. A day when Little League baseball was in full swing, and parents cheered their children to victory or comforted them in defeat.

Golf courses and tennis courts were packed, and basketball’s March Madness increased competition and fans’ shouts to a high pitch. Young parents pushed babies leisurely in strollers down neighborhood streets as joggers raced by.

Tulips, buttercups and budding tree branches completed nature’s goodbye to winter in the Southland. However, for me, it all seemed a bit unnatural.  Spring usually gives me a boost and typically reminds me of rebirth, rejuvenation and hope. But this Saturday, this first moment of a beautiful season, is not the same, nor perhaps, should it be.

As I watched my grandson run the bases and cheered him to a win, I couldn’t help but think about another five-year-old in Ukraine sloshing through snow and cold to escape the horror of war. Many children hide in darkness while bombs rain down from a gray sky. Their homes are gone, play is over and the joy of spring is just a memory. Along with their parents, some children will never witness another sunny day. 

I can’t imagine or understand that type of misery and heartache. The human price of war is catastrophic and barbaric. However, when a fight is unprovoked and civilians become targets, such heinous crimes increase the battle price to another despicable level. Such actions should raise our compassion, abundant gratefulness and humility to a higher level of excellence.

Today if we are lucky enough to go to a restaurant with a group of friends, maybe we shouldn’t complain if the food is not to our liking or the wait time is too long. Instead, pause and ponder those who waited for days attempting to obtain bread or water.  We should be grateful for the simple joy of having friends and food.

If we take a stroll in the bright sunshine on any given day, let’s look up to the sky and be grateful no bombs are forcing us to run. Or, if we are watching a child run the bases at the ball field, be ecstatic that we are listening to the sounds of a loved one play.

When we witness the glory of spring unfold here, reflect on those who ache to see unscorched earth and a yard of their own.

This spring, we should toss whining, fussing, and ingratitude with the dead plants of winter. We can be and should be better, wiser, and abundantly determined to rise above our petty discords and anointed self-importance. 

Today, 10 million innocent Ukrainians are displaced because a dictator wanted more.  As a member of humanity, we cannot ignore their plight nor be unappreciative for anything we own, enjoy, or see that is free from torment and terror.

When I think about our past foolishness over mask-wearing, disputes over our individual rights, our battles with our leaders, and our vicious attacks on social media, I want to hide in shame. How ridiculous compared to the fight we watch from afar for a country’s right to be free, live in a democracy, and survive.

During the last few years, Americans have often reduced every aspect and event in our lives to politics. A deadly illness became political along with everything involved with it. We began to choose friends or dismiss friendships over political differences. People searched endlessly for news channels, newspapers and magazines that sided with their political preferences to confirm their own beliefs. Conspiracies grew along with animosity and damaging division. The far-right and far-left threw our common bonds into trash cans everywhere.

In a way, that’s what independence can produce, but is it the best use of our freedom?

Let us increase our American spirit with less complaining and bickering.

Instead, for today, choose compassion over competing theories. Choose respect over dishonor. Show dictators that a nation’s unity is what provides courage to win wars and triumph over their reign of evil.  We are free to choose love for others. Free to be thankful for each other and praise God for our abundance. Free to give others the finest of who we are and offer hope. Our best use of our freedom is to prioritize and agree to help keep others free from oppression, free from iniquity and free to enjoy life on a sun-drenched spring day.

“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”  — 1 Corinthians 10:24