Wednesday, February 07, 2024

A hole in the world?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

The Eagles, an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971, are one of the world's best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 200 million records.  One of their songs, "Hole in the World" begins like this:
There's a hole in the world tonight.
There's a cloud of fear and sorrow. 
There's a hole in the world tonight.
Don't let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.

Even if we are optimists and constantly look for the best, it does seem, at least at times, that there is a hole in the world. We live in a day of almost unrestrained violence. Children can be snatched from homes and killed at school. Bombs and missiles are exploded in public places. There is war in Ukraine, Gaza and many other less publicized places. No community, no race, no nation is immune to, nor protected from a growing culture of violence. It is as if there is a hole in the world. Now, more than ever, we need to learn a different way, for the path we are following leads to a dark and dangerous wilderness.

I like the way of Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix, two men who experienced first hand a cloud of fear and sorrow. One deadly evening in 1995, 14-year-old Tony Hicks shot and killed a 20-year-old college student and pizza deliveryman in San Diego, California. Tony and several other gang members ordered pizza and, when it was delivered, Tony was told by his gang to shoot the young man, Tariq Khamisa, who delivered the food.

Tariq's father Azim was enraged at the senseless killing. "There's something really wrong with a society where kids kill kids," he spat. He was angry with the kids, but he was even more upset with a culture that breeds so much violence. Shortly after his son's death, Azim heard from a gentleman named Ples Felix. Ples was Tony Hick's grandfather and guardian. Azim invited Ples to his home and the two men shared their mutual grief and heartache, but it did not stop there -- they also decided to do something. "I realised that change had to start with me," Azim reasoned.

Therefore, though he may have wanted revenge, the grieving father chose a different way to respond to his son's death.  What happened? The victim's father toured the United States with the killer's grandfather. The two men visited schools with a message of nonviolence. They told the story of Tariq and Tony -- one child dead and the other in prison. Thankfully, in this growing worldwide culture of violence, these two men of peace changed lives. They warmed hearts and stimulated minds of countless young people. They showed us all there is a different way to live.

It is easy to feel a great sense of despair when we see so much injustice and discrimination around us, but we can take comfort from what the psalmist wrote, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever”  God’s goodness and love is clearly demonstrated through Jesus, whom He sent to save us from our sins when we were still God’s enemies. As the apostle Paul encouraged the people in Rome and now us in this world of so much evil, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”


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