The Line Between Sense and Senseless

Monday night, I sat transfixed watching the news and the stories coming out of Baltimore. Increasingly, I heard the word “senseless” being used to describe the violence and the destruction of property.

Before that was yet another senseless event — the death of Freddie Gray.

Stretching before that in countless threads of cause and effect, there were senseless things that have led to tragedy and violence and injustice.

So we struggle to change that. We work as hard as we can to make sense of it all.

The problem is that our sense is another person’s folly. Our senseless marks wisdom in the other guy’s life.  The problem is that we — each one of us — are attempting to be the line between sense and senseless. And I don’t care how smart you are, the line you draw individually will never be the definitive one.

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The line becomes sharper when the community addresses wrongdoing and ends the imbalance of power. Addicts, alcoholics, and compulsive people can be helped to an extent with medication, but the most effective path to recovery comes from community. The unemployed and under-employed, the homeless, the disenfranchised, the person with the “other color of skin,” the poor, and yes, even the rich see momentary gains in programs and short-term process. Yet short-term process enables only short-term progress. When community — neighbors, friends, and even opponents — come together and build understanding the line between sense and senseless is no longer the issue.

We are seeing community emerge in Baltimore. But what’s happening in Baltimore is a bigger problem than just Baltimore. It’s going to take a bigger community than just Baltimore. We all need to be part of that community.

Let there be no doubt, wrongdoing must be addressed by the community both quickly and decisively. But it must be addressed on both sides of the line between sense and senseless. When countless individuals stand together, the line disappears and we move forward together.

Today, let’s set aside our individual efforts to be that line between sense and senseless. Instead, let’s stand together where we can be seen and lift where there is a burden.

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