What a resurrection of the spirit I am feeling this Palm Sunday as sun breaks through the black clouds following a rain storm. Upon witnessing our young people lead a march for the restoration of health and sanity to our nation, I wanted to grab a palm frond and join the crowd. It’s hard not to feel that a new day dawns.
Listen to the speeches of our youth who cry out for change, a transformation in the national character. They may bring you to tears. “Jesus taught the appeal to the emotions as the technique of arresting and focusing the intellectual attention. He designated the mind thus aroused and quickened as the gateway to the soul, where there resides that spiritual nature of man which must recognize truth and respond to the spiritual appeal of the gospel in order to afford the permanent results of true character transformations.” (152:6.4)
I’ve often enjoyed the way Jesus presented his wisdom to the young Ganid. His words spoken to his young student seem to have a stronger appeal to me, perhaps because I experience Jesus’s one-on-one intimate ministry, whereas the group discourses are less personal. “There lives within every human mind a divine spirit, the gift of the Father in heaven. This good spirit ever strives to lead us to God, to help us to find God and to know God; but also within mortals there are many natural physical tendencies which the Creator put there to serve the well-being of the individual and the race. Now, oftentimes, men and women become confused in their efforts to understand themselves and to grapple with the manifold difficulties of making a living in a world so largely dominated by selfishness and sin.”
After this general description of the challenges people face in life, Jesus then went on to recount the amazing biography that he’d read in the faces of the “two public women” who had accosted them. “I perceive, Ganid, that neither of these women is willfully wicked. I can tell by their faces that they have experienced much sorrow; they have suffered much at the hands of an apparently cruel fate; they have not intentionally chosen this sort of life; they have, in discouragement bordering on despair, surrendered to the pressure of the hour and accepted this distasteful means of obtaining a livelihood as the best way out of a situation that to them appeared hopeless. Ganid, some people are really wicked at heart; they deliberately choose to do mean things, but, tell me, as you look into these now tear-stained faces, do you see anything bad or wicked?" (133:3.7)
There were, of course, times when Jesus did not share the good news of the way to higher realities with those they encountered, for example, when they met the “thoughtless pagan,” Ganid expressed surprise that he did not make conversation with the man as a lead up to a spiritual discussion, to which Jesus replied, "Ganid, the man was not hungry for truth. He was not dissatisfied with himself. He was not ready to ask for help, and the eyes of his mind were not open to receive light for the soul.” (132:7.2)
To learn more trust between our fellows, to believe that people can find it in themselves to do the right thing, “Make your appeals directly to the divine spirit that dwells within the minds of men. Do not appeal to fear, pity, or mere sentiment. In appealing to men, be fair; exercise self-control and exhibit due restraint; show proper respect for the personalities of your pupils.” (159:3.2)
Fred Rogers (NPR TV 1968-2001), Mr. Rogers, believed in and trusted the good in people. “When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch, that deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”
We all share knowledge that we get from “the news;” the world is a cruel place. Some of us who watch take on a hard shell as protection; we put on protective armor out of fear, not courage. Trust and love, holding on to faith and hope against the odds—these are the courageous acts. It does take courage to learn trust, but friendship with God gives us the courage.