Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pep Talk: "If Not Us, Who?"

Three times a week your knucklehead scribe attends devotions with guys in the Denver Rescue Mission's "New Life Program." It happens, except Sundays, each morning at 7:15. Roll call is taken, announcements made and then a presenter, usually a Mission employee/chaplain, delivers a short Biblical message designed to inspire dudes trying to comeback from homelessness, addictions or other challenges.

“The circumstances of our lives will do one of two things,” bellowed a veteran and respected chaplain with a personal story of successfully overcoming detrimental afflictions. “They will make us bitter or they will make us better.” Amen dude.

While marinating in that statement, the ol’ cranium immediately went to the Las Vegas tragedy and its senselessness. Really? Everyone has an opinion on how to lessen America’s seemingly endless string of mass shootings. Will the massacre of 58 and the wounding of hundreds innocently enjoying a concert energize our nation? Will we become better or bitter concerning gun control, ammunition limits and more effective mental health policies?

For the record, I’m a Second Amendment advocate but believe we can become better at developing more sensibility in the gun-control debate. However, just personal opinion, what America desperately needs to embrace in equal, if not greater amounts, is the importance for a new spirit as much as new legislation.

A recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll says only 24% of Americans feel the country is headed in the right direction. Mass shootings. Too many people on the streets. Growing income inequality. Failing educational policies. Decaying infrastructure. Our country has big-time issues. How can we unite in addressing them? Become better, not bitter?

Since starting A Stronger Cord four years ago the mantra of the community outreach program has always been, “Why can’t we unify communities with wellness?” Who doesn’t benefit from being more fit, connected and giving? It’s a free and easy (it does take time) pathway to better health, relationships and communities. Whether we’re black, white or brown; live in a mission, mansion or on Main Street, we need to spend more time together. It will make us healthier. Body, mind and spirit. Individually and collectively. 

Do we have the will? Some numbers make you wonder. For example, The Denver Foundation recently conducted a CLOSE TO HOME homelessness public awareness campaign in communities across the Denver seven-county metro area. Responders acknowledged far too many cannot meet basic needs. The report added Coloradans need to increase understanding, compassion and get more engaged to solve, or at least reduce, the growing problem. But here’s what jumped out, at least for me, from the study. Only 7% of those polled believe they have a major responsibility to play in helping to address homelessness. Wow. Really? If not us, who?

The great struggles of our time. Will they make us bitter or better? Investing more money, alone, will not solve our problems. We need to build a stronger cord to one another and tackle them together!

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