Violence in our hearts

Published 9:36 pm Saturday, March 24, 2012

By Chris Surber

We live in a violent world. Just the other day I read about a young man named Trayvon Martin who was, by early accounts, gunned down for being black in a white neighborhood. The 17-year-old was visiting relatives in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. He was on his way back to their house from 7-Eleven with an iced tea and a bag of Skittles, when he was apparently followed by neighborhood watch and subsequently shot and killed. Cries of racism and unnecessary force abound.

An hour before I began writing this column I read of a horrible account of violence against children at a Hebrew School in Toulouse, France. Apparently a gunman on a motorcycle shot dead at least four people, including three children.

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This comes just days after three soldiers were killed in similar shootings in the same area of southwest France. There is suspicion that these attacks are racially motivated.

In America, we sometimes excuse the violence rampant in our culture by saying that we have a history of violence. So does the rest of the world. We live in a violent world. The world is what it is, because people make it the way it is.

A baseball team is talented, because the individuals who comprise that team have strong abilities in hitting, throwing, running and pitching. They don’t win because they have good uniforms or because they have the catchiest name or the best mascot. They win, because their collective talents make them a great team.

Our world is violent, because men’s hearts are violent. We have a heart of violence, and that is why our world is violent. The world is full of racism, because men and women’s hearts are filled with racism. Anger and hatred are allowed to grow in society, because they are so well-tended in the garden of the human heart.

I wish that I knew the family of Trayvon or had a way into the lives of the families of those French children who were robbed of their futures. I wish that I could speak love and hope into their lives and that it would drive back the darkness of violence in our world.

I cannot. The only thing I own, all that I possess, is my own heart. I can shine a light in it and in so doing drive back the collective darkness in this world, one heart at a time.

The champion of the truth that only love can drive out hate, Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”