My two grandsons both enjoy going to football games. Ages two and four, they are well entertained at high school or college football games. They pick up on what they see and hear at the game. I realized that when four year old Logan shouted during a game recently, “Hit somebody!” Indeed he had heard that said more than once from fans around us. To be truthful, he might have actually heard his granddaddy say “Hit somebody” a time or two. That is now his go to phrase when cheering on the East Carolina Pirates or his favorite hockey team, the Carolina Hurricanes. I imagine it won’t be too long before his two year old cousin, IV, picks up the mantra and yells, “Hit somebody!”
On this week in which we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, I would like to suggest that little ones like my grandsons might hear a different phrase repeated often enough that they in turn might make the phrase their own. I would love to hear them say, “Help somebody!”
Booker T. Washington said, “I think I have learned the best way to lift one’s self up is to help someone else.” “What are you doing for others?”; Dr. King said that this is life’s most persistent and urgent question. Voices like those of Washington and King cried out with clarity, “Help somebody!” Are our young people hearing a clear call to help others sounded today?
In a divided and angry culture voices are needed to teach children the value of helping others, of serving others. The church follows One who was clear about service. Jesus did not come to earth to be served, but to serve. Jesus gave His life for others. And, Jesus called His followers to heed His example and find greatness in life through serving others. The message of the church should be consistent and clear so that little ones who grow up in the church learn to say, “Help somebody!”
Dr. King also said, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Indeed, this is the decision point that we face continually. Will we act out of pure and good motives to creatively use our gifts and passion to help and serve others? Or, will we choose the darkened and destructive path of self-interest, unwilling to risk helping others in any significant way.
This afternoon I enjoyed lunch with a retired educator who is passionate about energizing our local community to provide scholarships for students graduating from our local high school. He is challenging alumni, businesses and congregations to come together in an effort to help somebody. We need more persons like him.
If I am going to live in a world where my grandsons learn to say “hit somebody” at football and hockey games, I at least hope to also live in our world where those boys learn something far more important, to “help somebody”. May the voices children hear in their homes, in their churches, and in their communities instill in them the desire to “help somebody”. I want this for many reasons, but none more important than for the reason found in Booker T. Washington’s quote. Helping someone else truly is the best way to live!