Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Loud and Clear

By Anita Sullivan 

For weeks now, there has been a dad protesting on the road out of our neighborhood. He’s standing with signs of varying messages about how the local elementary school is racist and hates kids. That’s my son’s school. In fact, at least one of his kids has been in my son’s class for the past few years, and last year this man made an impression on me the first day when he grilled the teacher (rudely) on her educational background and qualifications. I sensed trouble, because while I was taking photos of my kid at his new desk, this man was already stirring the pot. I was proud. He was confronting.

Most of us don’t have the need to wave a sign, but many of us have messages we want heard. We want people to hear our message of victim’s rights, of hope in the face of all odds, or whatever else we feel called to speak. And speak we must. And sometimes there is a place for signs.

But, one of my favorite quotes is from St. Francis of Assisi and says “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” As a Christian, I take that to heart. But no matter what your beliefs or what you’re called to share with others, the point is simply that how you live your life speaks so much more than the words you say. You often have to do both, but without the life lived, the words fall on empty ears.

I’m often riled up by bumper stickers or billboards with messages of hate. I don’t understand what those behind them think will happen, except to fuel on those with their same beliefs. Did anyone who disagrees, ever pass a billboard and say “by golly, you’re right!” Of course not- those that already agreed with the sentiment were reinforced is all.

Consider today who you want to reach with your message- is it those who already agree with you? Then words may be enough. But to really reach those who need to hear, don’t ever let words replace the life.

See, that dad’s words mean nothing, because I saw his actions. He’d now like me (and others) to believe his words written on a sign, and somehow forget the actions we’ve seen. Not likely.

I wonder what words I’m causing to be ignored because of actions to the contrary. I wonder how I’m getting in my own way of sharing the story of hope I need to. Time to take some honest looks. 

 Anita Sullivan is the sister of a missing person, and long time advocate of victims, even before having a personal connection to the world of lost. During college,Anita found a passion for helping others and was involved in a variety of ministries. She then started a career in non-profit, first working with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She went on to work with at risk families through a supervised visitation program before spending several years in fundraising and advocacy. She now tries to reach people with a message of Hope through writing and speaking, while honoring her brother, Michael "Austin" Davis, who has been missing since 2007. To learn more about Anita, visit her at losingaustin.blogspot.com. 

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