Every sport has a playbook. It is a set of plays a team anticipates to run with success to accomplish its goal of winning the game. Teams practice these plays and adapt them to meet a given strategy. Players execute each play with precision, to the point a casual observer might believe what they are watching is an organic exercise.
America has a playbook that it brings out with every national tragedy. It is tried and true, worn out on the edges, but we go to it every time without fail.
Immediately upon hearing of a tragedy, we will express our shock, grief, and prayers for those suffering. Within hours, groups and individuals will respond that they are tired of hearing about “thoughts and prayers.” The media will descend upon a community and interview people who are often emotional and express “this would never happen here” and “I cannot believe this person would do this” sentiments. Government leaders will share their preferred course of action, often their legislation, but admit they have yet to do anything. Activists will rile up their base with an accusation that their opponents are trying to take your rights or are thirsty for violence. Others will post that if only we would let God back in schools, the tragedy would never happen.
Within a few days, we will forget the suffering of those who are hurting because we have moved on to being more concerned with our own lives than the suffering of others. We put the playbook back on the shelf and dust it off to use at the next national tragedy.
The playbook is not working. Our anger toward one another and our blaming each other for the inaction taking place is not working. We need a new playbook. We need a new response.
A response that can only happen when we decide that we want something to change in our society instead of passively responding to tragedy. It is easy to be a keyboard warrior and type our frustrations while sitting in our lounge chairs. It is another to get our hands and feet dirty and seek to be the hands and feet of Christ in a broken and hurting world.
We need a new playbook. We need a change of heart for anything to change in society. Followers of Christ must lead the change we seek in response to tragedies.
Change happens when our first response is not to get angry at or even dismiss how someone responds to tragedy but to encourage people to consider that God might be using their hurts or frustrations to seek change in our community.
Change happens when we do not point fingers at one another. It happens when we say, “I don’t want this to happen again, so how can we work together to make our society safer.”
Change happens when we hold our leaders accountable. It should not be impossible to pass sensible legislation that can eliminate the threat to our society that the proliferation of guns provides.
Change happens when we do not twist our faith to seek political advantage. We cannot remove God from society. To assume that we can is to deny the very omnipresence of God. We can, however, ignore God’s presence by seeking to live for ourselves more than for God.
Change in society happens when we change how we respond to tragedy.
We need a new playbook as followers of Christ. The old one is not working.