All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Bullying: Never OK!

“…where is it written that we must act if we do not care, as if we are not moved?
Well, I am moved. I want a kinder and gentler nation.”
President George H.W. Bush

President Bush would be appalled!

A political rally for our current president was held in Grand Rapids last week. The event drew thousands of people, which meant waiting for hours. It so happens, the long line snaked through the heart of the downtown area and past the facilities of Mel Trotter Ministries. Back in the olden days we knew Mel Trotter as a rescue mission. Founded in 1900, it began by helping those with substance abuse. Today it’s an impressive and expansive operation that offers “rescue and restoration for anyone experiencing hunger and homelessness.” Mel Trotter has an impressive history of helping those experiencing substance abuse, as well as battered women and homeless kids. It even offers shelter space for those who identify themselves as transgender.

Anyway, the CEO of Mel Trotter issued a lengthy statement last week critical of the behavior of some people in that line. Dennis Van Kampen claims they

“Said rude things to our staff
Shouted racial slurs at our guests
Refused to get out of the way for women and children trying to get in
 Yelled political slogans at those trying to find safety, hope, refuge and help.”

Said Mr. Van Kampen: “I am heartbroken, angry and ashamed!”

Why do I bring up an issue affecting Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids? Because I’m in the prison ministry business, and those people who think it’s OK to bully men, women and children down on their luck, or of a different color, or different persuasion, or different sexual identity…those are the same people who have low regard for prisoners. We see it every day!

I’m not blaming any public figure or any political party. I’m placing the blame right where it belongs: on you and me!

We’ve let things slide, we’ve looked the other way, and we’ve ignored warning signs for too long thinking that perhaps something good can come from all of this. I’m sorry, bad behavior is never acceptable.

Another former President, Jimmy Carter, said: “I hate to see complacency prevail in our lives when it’s so directly contrary to the teaching of Christ.”

Now the ball is back in our court. It’s up to us to do something about it.

As a church musician, I occasionally like to pull up this hymn from the 50s:

Let there be peace on earth,
and let it begin with me.

Yes, Lord.

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