Ripples of Hope

Recently I met a former resident of Zimbabwe who now lives in a distant country. I could see he had strawberries on the side table but he delayed in setting them before us. 'We have to wait for the postman.' He did not enlarge on this enigmatic explanation but after a little while the postman did ar

rive with the letters – and a carton of cream. ‘The postman brings me odd things from the shops. He always looks in to see how we are, whether there are any letters or not.’

I warmed to this postman who daily went beyond ‘the call of duty’ to give comfort and joy to an elderly couple. Small gestures can raise the confidence of people. They can ignite a sense of solidarity, to use that Polish word again, a sense of communion with others.

Bobby Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 as he campaigned to become President of the United States, once spoke of ‘ripples of hope.’

Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe. For the fortunate among us there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. Like it or not we live in times of danger and uncertainty. But they are also more open to the creative energies of people than any other in history –

The gospel image for ‘this one essential vital quality’ is ‘salt’ (Matt 5:13). It is salt that makes food palatable and nourishing. It also preserves. It gives life. Every culture has sought to secure its supplies of salt. Its link with life itself can be seen in the stories among the Dande people about Guruuswa. The highest compliment you can pay to another person is to call him or her ‘the salt of the earth.’ We have many amongst us who could be so called but at the moment they are as hidden as the substance itself as it quietly does its work.

A hungry angry people
Desperate for leadership

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