We are all good people.
That is a very bold statement. It is bold because there are undeniably so many examples of deplorable human behavior. It manifests in ever-expanding acts of violence, evil and hatred. However, we are all just as undeniably born as good people. Things happen along the way that harden our hearts and minds. But each of us continues to be a work in progress with a God-given capacity for good and an ability to become much better. Nobody is perfect. When these truths are recognized, we can finally begin to embrace the fundamental goodness in others and in ourselves.
We have slipped into a dangerous and slippery place lately, where lines are drawn and walls have been built between those who are most like us and those who are different. Skin color, ethnic background, gender, religious beliefs, language, sexual orientation. and socioeconomic status are among the many ways we are dividing ourselves (most often in the name of safety and security). By so doing, we disown the ones who need us most. Those who suffer are held in contempt and blamed for their poverty of substance and spirit as if it comes from some inborn lack of initiative or laziness. Then, life becomes a contest of the strong against the weak which ultimately leads to wholesale persecution.
Where do we encounter God if not in the faces of one another? How can we know God at all if we establish a hierarchy of worth?
In short, we cannot.
The only God that can exist under those circumstances is more akin to Santa Claus who continually makes a list of the naughty and nice. Judgment and punishment are the hallmarks of how that kind of God relates to us. This cannot be. If God is Love in one breath, God cannot be executioner in the next. But since God is Love, and we are God's children, then our whole mission and purpose in life is one of Love. Jesus makes this clear in The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) when we are told above all else, to Love God, our neighbors and ourselves.
And so, good people, we are empowered. We are better than we thought. We can be better. We can do better.