Growing up, I often recall my grandmother quoting biblical scripture. James 2:14-26 in particular, always stood out. The New King James Version of the book of James 2:14-17 reads:
“14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
The message for me is that we have been given skills, abilities, and talents to help ourselves, change our circumstances, and to redirect life’s course. Yet some of us are willing to completely turn over our fate, to a spiritual being or earthly leader. We have become spectators to our own lives and are willing to just let things happen, without our voice or actions. We fail to appreciate that faith works best when accompanied by a commitment, from us, to do the work.
That work will come in a range of activities this year. Work will be needed from us on our health outcomes. No matter what fad diet or craze comes along, you can’t sidestep exercise. Bottom line, you will have to walk, run, squat, lift, swim or something! Work will be needed in upgrading our education, investments and business relationships to change the economic picture for ourselves, families, and communities. Work will be needed in our communities to change the incidences of violence, reckless driving, and crime. Work will be needed to create the communities we want for ourselves, our children and our elders. Simply put, you can’t get away from the work.
This year, our politics, will require work. We will need to work to protect our vote, work to draw fair district voting maps, and work to ensure that we show up at the polls. We will have to work to be heard, work not to be marginalized, work, and work to not only have a seat at the table, but to drive decisions.
This year, we must work to stop lead-impacted water delivery systems from poisoning our children. We have to get to work on creating pathways to homeownership, and changing negative social determinants of poverty. Faith is necessary, but work is also required. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so, we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom”. It is with a straightened back and a willingness to work, that I welcome 2020 and wish you a Happy New Year!