emanuel-ame-grace-and-forgiveness

Common Grace, Forgiveness & Kindness

There once was a time in America, quite recently, when civility and acceptance was commonplace and empathy for the suffering was sympathetically expressed.  Now, we have far too many people who outwardly disdain and distrust others for no justifiable reason other than they are different in some way.  The current political and social atmosphere is filled with a lack of humanity and respect.  I am certain that you have noticed the personal attack ads on TV and mailers from candidates seeking elected office across this country and the harsh and demeaning social media attacks.

America is in a lot of pain right now, and the reasons for this pain and rage is complicated.  I believe that much of the anger and fear that is prevalent across the country stems from our lack of understanding and awareness of our differences. 

I am a child of immigrants who escaped communism in China and lived under martial law in Taiwan, where civil liberties like elections, protests and an independent press that we take for granted in the United States did not exist.  I, myself am an immigrant to the United States and began my life in America residing in a federal housing project which was culturally and racially diverse. I began my education in a remedial special English as a Second Language (ESL) program where I had inspiring and caring teachers. I experienced racial and economic challenges throughout my personal life but was fortunate enough to have a supportive and stable family structure to empower my self-esteem and personal accountability. I learned to give back and show my gratitude for having achieved the American dream.

Nearly 2 years ago, I had the incredible privilege to be inspired by family members and a survivor of the 2015 racially motivated church shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina where the lives of nine African Americans were taken during their weekly Bible study/prayer service. Speaking at the Covenant Church of Easton, the concept of forgiveness and kindness was clearly expressed and conveyed as the pathway to securing peaceful and purposed living.  “It’s important that we achieve this for our own sake,” said Polly Sheppard, one of two shooting survivors.  Ms. Sheppard also conveyed that “Forgiveness isn’t easy but absolutely necessary even if it means that forgiveness is given to the criminal who killed your family members and loved ones. Both grace and forgiveness areintentional acts of strength and faith allowing us the courage and the ability to teach and renew shared and common humanity.”

Common grace & forgivenessare not found at surface-level.  Both are cultivated deep within and require self-reflection, search for understanding, compassion, and care for people.  Neither grace nor forgiveness are accidental.  I am looking forward to the days, in the not so distant future, when extending grace is common and forgiveness is freely offered.  I am committed and determined to practice them in the way I serve and represent our community.

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