(EDITOR'S NOTE: Faith Matters is a column written by the social concerns committee of the United Churches of Lycoming County. The monthly feature will include local faith-based comment on significant social issues facing us today. Letters reacting to the columns should be brief and clear and may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed in the columns are those of the writers and the social concerns committee, not necessarily the Sun-Gazette.)
Summer always is a time of looking forward to special enjoyments. Perhaps it is a walk in the park or neighborhood, a picnic or adventure. There are days we want to sit with a book and a glass of ice tea, relax at the pool or fish in the river.
Our activities are what memories and scrapbooks are made of. But sometimes the event goes awry, plans change and accidents happen. Where possible we reschedule, but we don't always get second chances.
It amazes me how many people will change what they are doing on any given day and rush to help us in an emergency. On a recent weekend a teen was enjoying some time at the river when she saw someone struggling for her life and jumped in to help. She was joined by a police officer and two men in a canoe, and they were successful.
Then there are other times we hear of people with guns, or drunk drivers, taking a life or injuring someone. Not only does that traumatize the victim, but the perpetrator, and family and friends must deal with the aftermath.
Actions, either positive or negative, have ripple effects for years.
One of our United Churches committees had a banner that reminds us "Life Is Worth Living." Perhaps we all need to keep such a banner close and read it every day. It reminds us that each day is special and each one of us is special - no limits - no restrictions!
Every person has rights. There were 28 human rights enumerated in the 1940s for our world family. We still struggle with even the most basic.
When you or someone you love is ill or injured medical care is a necessity. Yet, as a country, we are willing to allow thousands to be without health insurance and/or the medication they need.
We want the best education for our children. Yet we keep cutting school funding, and only those with adequate incomes have a choice to send their children to private school, or have the free time to augment public education with special experiences.
Then we try to balance our budget by cutting food allocation for our children. How can they be the best they can be if they do not have adequate, nutritious meals to fuel their bodies and their minds.
We say freedom and equality are important for everyone. Yet we still try to decide who is equal and therefore free. We still look at color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion and etc. to decide who can do what and have what.
We work hard to put people in jail for breaking the law but don't work as hard to help people returning to society after paying their debt, to make a new life for themselves.
Too many in our communities react to pressures by taking their own life. The reasons are many and varied, teens might be reacting to bullying or abuse, adults perhaps to financial concerns or people's prejudices and seniors sometimes react to illness or loss. They are overwhelmed and in pain and cannot see other viable options and the people who they can reach out to for help.
I believe life is worth living and God moves within us to change our perspective in any given moment so that we can move from boredom or dissatisfaction or even everyday activities - and discover things to make life worth living. God works in and around us to fill our days with blessings, opportunities and challenges for ourselves and to encourage and uplift each other.
- Bernstine is executive director of United Churches of Lycoming County.