Are you angry? I’m angry! And from the polls and the news, it seems that most people in the world are angry.

Systems that worked for us in the past no longer work. The organizations that we had counted on to structure meaning and provide ways of achieving our goals are disintegrating, and what could replace them has not yet crystallized.

Consequently, many of us are angry. In my counseling classes, I was taught that anger is neither good nor bad. It is simply an emotion we feel when something is blocking our way forward. We can do one of three things in response: shut down, lash out or find a way around the block.

Judging from our political climate today, too many people have resorted to the first two options, resulting in reactionary denigration, violence, blaming our most vulnerable persons, or just plain helplessness.

When our systems fail, creative and moral people don’t just react negatively. They work for a positive future by finding a way around the block. They tap into who we really are as human beings and where we are being called to serve.

Often on a local level, that means working together to create the community we desire.

I have seen this collaboration time and time again in La Crosse. From the neighborhood associations to the Friends of the Marsh, from the Franciscan Hospitality House to the anti-human trafficking task force, La Crosse citizens are shouldering the responsibility for the creation of a better world.

Instead of blaming the most vulnerable among us for our woes, we are creating opportunities for these very people through the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Change Direction campaign. Our newspaper, the La Crosse Tribune, has also stepped up. Instead of sinking into nasty journalism, it has decided to feature inspirational articles on its front page, provide a column on ethics, and tout collaborative efforts through its editorials.

I’m still angry, but I have learned from the citizens of La Crosse how to be creative and life-giving with that anger.

Maybe we could get the word out about this alternative way of being.

Could La Crosse become a beacon of light and hope in an otherwise dark and abysmal environment of reactionary violence? Could we be an example to others of how to deal with the demise of our institutions by creating new ways of dealing with society’s problems and hopes?

From what I’ve seen, I think we can.

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Sister Karen Lueck is president of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.


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