Op-Ed

Compassion can change a person’s world; Give back to others next week

I’m honored to serve as pastor of Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington, but it’s getting harder to do my job.

I’m tired of praying on Sunday morning for God to comfort the victims of mass shootings.

I’m tired of trying to explain why people created in the image of God burn torches and spew hatred toward other people created in the image of God.

I’m tired of reading psalms that start with, “How long, O Lord? How long?”

I love living in Lexington and believe it’s the closest thing to heaven on Earth, but I also recognize that what happened in Ferguson, Charlottesville and Parkland can happen anywhere. Even here.

And there’s nothing our city leaders can do about it, because you can’t legislate against hate. These disturbing acts of violence and prejudice don’t get stopped by a show of power; they get stopped by show of compassion.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

That’s up to each and every one of us.

In October of last year, the Urban County Council voted to designate Lexington as a Compassionate City, part of the larger international Charter for Compassion movement.

Becoming a compassionate city is not about hanging a plaque on a wall or signing a document at a press conference. It’s about living out the essence of the word “compassion,” which literally means “to suffer with.”

If we truly want to be a compassionate city, we must leave our offices, places of worship and the safety of our homes and suffer with those in our communities who don’t enjoy the privileges and luxuries that we too often take for granted.

I’m a part of a Leadership Lexington team that has worked with the Compassionate Lexington initiative to plan #LexGiveBack week for April 22-28. During this week, we’re encouraging every person in Lexington to do an act of compassion for their fellow citizens.

We’re asking everyone to go to www.lexgiveback.org to register as an individual, an organization that will provide volunteers, or an organization that needs volunteers. We hope to connect people who want to put their compassion into action with organizations who seek to serve those who are suffering.

What can you do during #LexGiveBack week? Whatever will help someone else. Mow someone’s lawn. Make a meal for a sick neighbor. Write a card to a coworker going through a difficult time. Give blood. Pay for someone’s coffee. Sit with someone who’s eating lunch alone. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Make cookies for a local fire station. Take flowers to the nurses in a hospital.

Whatever you do, it will make a difference.

I heard a story about a doctor who was visiting Africa. While at an AIDS treatment facility, she was so overwhelmed by the suffering around her that she ran out of the tent, shook her fist to the sky, and said, “God, why don’t you do something about this?”

And then she heard God ask her the same question. There are those among us who suffer, and if we don’t do something, that suffering will only lead to more death, more desperation, more violence.

I encourage all to say with me, “That’s not going to happen here.” Please join me participating in #LexGiveBack Week. Your act of compassion may not change the world, but it may change one person’s world. And that’s a great place to start.

Kory Wilcoxson is project leader for #LexGive Back Week.

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