For Your Consideration
Alex Haley would have been 100 years old this past August. He will, of course, forever be remembered as the author of “Roots”, a book published in 1976 which won Haley a Pulitzer Prize, and which became the basis for a television mini-series that drew the largest audience in television history to that point.
“Roots”, and Haley’s sequel, “Roots II”, were based on stories the author’s grandmother and aunts told him about their ancestors, their forced journey to this country, and their time in slavery and beyond.
Haley though, saw the books in a more “universal” human way. As he once told former Senator Lamar Alexander, a long-time friend, they reflected three primary objectives which Haley felt were vital for all humanity:
And then, this one: “Find the good and praise it”
“Find the good and praise it”.
It’s no accident that the Bible begins with a story about “the good” – the first creation story in which God declares all things God made good. Yes, immediately following that there is a story about humanity’s disobedience to God and God’s ways and the subsequent negative consequences of that. And throughout the rest of the Bible there are countless stories and passages involving suffering, struggle and despair.
But at the same time, there are also countless stories and passages of human hope, faithfulness, and deliverance from suffering, struggle and despair. There are countless stories and passages reflecting “the good” – God’s and ours.
A spiritual life that is full; complete; whole, requires us to keep both of those in our awareness. A spiritual life that considers only or primarily the good is destined to become shallow and insular, while one that considers only or primarily the ways in which humanity and the world fall short of God’s expectations is destined to become disappointing and cynical.
Haley’s admonition to “find the good and praise it” seems to be of particular relevance and importance to us as God’s people in this time of pandemic, climate change, and political and social division. No, we cannot and must not ignore others’ struggles and the world’s ills. But at the same time, in this time, God needs us to be open to, recognize, and praise “the good” when we see it and experience it. Otherwise, we risk having hopelessness and despair take precedence in our lives.
This fall, I invite you to look for, remember, and “praise the good” as much as we rightfully acknowledge and work to help alleviate the struggles and suffering around us. For we are the people of a God who made us and all things for “the good” – a God who promises to turn dark into light; suffering into healing; death into new life.
Good life. For all.