BY R.L. WITTER
Stevie Wonder wasn’t lying when he said, “It’s hotter than July” in his megahit “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” back in the day! Well, it’s not just the weather making things hot. With inflation, COVID-19 (STILL in 2022), political unrest, monkeypox, wildfires, polio, and heatwaves around the globe—we’re all feeling the heat.
In years past I might have been inclined to tell you to relax and know that Labor Day is coming, temperatures will begin to drop, kids will go back to school, and all will be right with the world. Unfortunately, that doesn’t sound like good advice these days because both temperatures and tempers are running hot.
We see people losing patience with cashiers in supermarkets and coffee shops. Road rage seems to be on the upswing. And for whatever reason, rudeness and apathy seem to have become the norm in too many situations. Meanwhile, women’s rights have been decreased and lenient gun laws have put more guns on the streets and in the hands of people pushed too far by stress, financial struggles, and mental illness.
With midterm elections coming, we’re seeing the chasm between rightwing and left-wing politics widen. The phrase “civil war” is being thrown around, claims of election fraud are still being made and supported, and judges and FBI agents are being threatened.
As we strain to beat the heat and allow cooler heads to prevail, I’m reminded of my mother often saying, “If you stay around long enough, everything old is new again.” As mother’s tend to be, she was right. Some other words Stevie sang in 1976 are as apropos today as they were more than 45 years ago:
The force of evil plans/To make you its possession/And it will if we let it/Destroy everybody We all must take/Precautionary measures/If love and peace you treasure/Then you’ll hear me when I say
Oh that love’s in need of love today (Love’s in need of love today)/ Don’t delay (Don’t delay)/Send yours in right away (Right away)
Hate’s goin’ ‘round (Hate’s goin’ round)/Breakin’ many hearts (Breaking hearts)/Stop it, please (Stop it, please) /Before it’s gone too far (Gone too far)
And yet, words even more ancient—from Proverbs 15:18—tell us, “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.” These are times when our ability to remain calm is paramount as we make decisions and navigate situations in a country more divided than anyone could’ve imagined for 2022.
As we enjoy our dwindling summer days, let us pray for clarity and calm, as well as patience, peace, and grace. Let’s pray the school year doesn’t begin as it ended in Uvalde, Tx. Let’s pray for protection against COVID, monkeypox, and polio. Let’s pray our dollars stretch enough to cover housing, food, back-to-school shopping, and gas money. Let’s pray for our students from kindergarten through graduate school to have a safe and educational year. And most of all, let’s pray for cooler heads to prevail and continued opportunities to enjoy the blessings and the mercies of God.