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Bonus Compassion Challenge

I have been listening to Hamilton on repeat. It’s certainly my “Sound of Summer 2020”. Just in case you don’t know. . . Hamilton, the musical, is based on the life of Alexander Hamilton (guy on the $10 bill) and is set in a revolutionary time of our country’s history. Thank you Disney +.  

Recently, for a family day of fun (btw – not everyone in the family agrees on the definition of fun), we went over to Greensboro to walk the Guildford Courthouse National Park. It is the site of a battle that set up the defeat of Cornwallis in Yorktown in 1781 and the end of the Revolutionary War. The picture above is from one of the trails. 

So over the past few months, my ears have started to pick up on how often warfare is used in conversation. From my newsfeeds and social media sites, television programs, politics, church meetings, and even daily life, our language is saturated with this imagery. We “launch campaigns”, build “coalitions”, and by now we all know that NC is a “battleground state”. We support our “frontline” workers while they “battle” the coronavirus. When we argue, we get “entrenched” in ideas and “stick to our guns” while we find “ammunition” to set up our response. We “retreat”; we “regroup”; we are caught up in culture wars, trade wars, and a war of words. You get the idea. 

The words we use shape our imaginations. They tell us how to relate to one another and where to find the future. Words make thoughts -> make actions -> make a world. When we use war imagery, we are subconsciously primed to look for enemies. 

The solution isn’t a quick fix, but I invite you this week to consider a Bonus Compassion Challenge. We are a people who value belonging, community, and grace. An important part of living into a future where those hopes are realized is shaping our language to our ideals. So here’s the challenge: take note. Tune your ears and notice when the language of war pops up in conversation, and then find new words that hold the hopes of your future and capture the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth. 

Amanda Atkin
Associate Minister of Faith Formation