Prayers will not save the day: Stop waiting for Saviors and Superheroes and become a participant
I recently asked my social media followers what gives them hope right now. There was a myriad of reasonable answers: children, grandchildren, spouses, partners, meaningful work, laughter, music, and dogs – lots and lots of dogs.
But there was an unsettling pattern to many of the responses. Despite every breakdown of our election processes, legislative safeguards, and Constitutional protections over the past three years, and despite being perpetually let down and betrayed by elected officials and church leaders and federal judges—far too many people are still inexplicably waiting for saviors and superheroes to save them.
“I have faith that God will make things right.”
“I believe that Love wins.”
“I trust that goodness will persevere.”
The prevailing wisdom still seems to be that Love and God are going to save the day. I wish it were that simple. I wish it was that cheap and clean a proposition: offer up some skyward prayers or make a floodlight appeal to the heavens and wait for rescue. That is not how this is going to work.
No, love will not win.
People of love, fully participating in the political process will: the disparate, sprawling army of heart-propelled human beings putting their feet on the ground and getting their hands dirty and putting skin in the game. When they spend themselves on behalf of other people, when they keep going despite being exhausted, when they never tire of doing the right thing, love will be winning.
Love is not a nebulous force outside of our grasp and beyond our efforts. It is the tangible cause-and-effect of giving half a damn about our neighbors and exercising that impulse. Love is an inside job.
God is not going to magically make things right either.
People who are moved with a compassion and passion for humanity born of their religious convictions, are going to need to move in order to make right all that is so terribly wrong. They are going to have to sacrifice sleep or relationships or comfort, in order to step into the messy, jagged trenches of this turbulent day and make it right. We are the flawed angels who get to bring good tidings of great joy.
Prayer alone is not fixing this mess.
What will alter the story we find ourselves in, is prayerful people who reflect on the fractures and the malignancies and injustices in front of them – and decide they will change what they can change and do what they are able to do; that they will endeavor to be the answer to as many of their prayers as possible.
That is not to say that there are not things working outside of what we can see and measure and quantify, but it means that we are able to do physical things (help and heal and give and protest and volunteer and canvass and vote) and if we do those physical things—then we will at least be able to rest in the mysteries, knowing we did all that we could with what we were entrusted with.
God is not going to release children still separated from their parents. Love is not going to make assault weapons less available in our streets. Jesus is not returning in November to remove hateful wannabe dictators and replace their cancerous regimes. Love is not going to legislate protections for the planet and the poor and the vulnerable.
God is not going to dismantle the systemic racism still afflicting our nation. Jesus is not coming to secure our elections and bring justice back to our Justice Department and make our neighbors wiser to FoxNews fakery. Love is not going to push back against ICE raids and Muslim bans and anti-LGBTQ bigotry.
You and I are, whether we are compelled by love or God, or simply an acute sickness in our stomachs that will not let us rest. Human beings working together for the common good will do all of those things.
So today, instead of looking to the sky and waiting for a pastor or a politician or some invisible force to come in and dramatically beat back the darkness — you wield the light in your possession.
Maybe you are the hero you have been waiting for. Maybe you are the answer to your urgent prayers. Maybe hope is not in the sky. Maybe it is in the mirror.
The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com