Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Making a Difference

Several days ago I was reading an editorial by Thomas Friedman, foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times. He was writing about the recent demonstrations and upheaval in Lebanon subsequent to the death of Rafik Hariri. One of the quotes used in his piece struck a chord with me. Speaking of the recent social unrest, he quoted Lebanese political analyst Nawaf Salam describing the revolution as "...not yet victory, but for the first time in a very long time, people are feeling, 'I can make change.' And there is a real sense of fraternity and unity."

Strangely enough, the last part of this sentiment reminds me of something I have tremendously appreciated about my experience as a young adult in the Church of God: the chance to contribute, and a sense of belonging. When Mr. Salam says "making change", I interpret that as the ability to be involved. To feel like you've given something of yourself, to make a difference, to play a part, however small, on the stage of events that shape the world as you know it. I'm thankful that we have many opportunities in the Church to play a part, however small, on the stage that matters most in our lives.

For me that does bring a "sense of fraternity and unity" that I think would be otherwise unachievable. Because of programs like camp, friendships across the country, and opportunities to serve and be involved locally, I feel like I'm a part of something much bigger than myself. I feel like I belong. Thinking about these blessings makes me wish that the Lebanese about whom Mr. Salam writes could experience them too. How long will the sense of solidarity from sharing space in the streets with hundreds of thousands of their countrymen last? What will follow for them, we all wonder? Something better? Worse? Either way, how long will it last?

Even though I can read all about events like this every day in the news, I can't possibly fathom what it would be like to live it. Even so, seeing it makes me thankful for my country, my Church, and for the chance to be a part of a group like this, with like-minded men sharing their lives and playing their parts, however small. It also makes me hope for the time in the future when the crowds in the streets halfway across the world, many of them probably about my age, will have the same opportunities to really make a difference, and for fraternity and unity that will last ... then it really will be a victory.