By Bill Renje
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples” – Mother Theresa
Most of us are average people, meaning that we won’t ever have a massive platform to shape cultural and world events.
But all of us have the God-given ability in us to be a force for positive change within the sphere of influence that He has given us.
With so much negativity in the news and threats of violence all around us, it can be easy to give up hope and think “what’s the use?” In the wake of the friction between law enforcement and communities of color heightened by the recent police shootings of unarmed black men, and the targeted assassinations of law enforcement officers, we all – regardless of color or political affiliation – have had the opportunity to cast stones that can either create positive or negative ripples.
Henry County Warhawks football coach Morris Starr decided to use his sphere of influence to create some ripples of support during his program’s annual fundraiser car wash and BBQ last Saturday.
In the parking lot of First Baptist Church of McDonough, ripples were spread and felt between church members, members of the community, law enforcement, the mayor of McDonough and the Henry County Warhawks football program.
While the players washed cars and parents prepared a charcoaled menu of BBQ chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers, the coaching staff mingled with those who came out to show their support, which included the mayor. Coach Starr honored all the police officers that came in uniform by feeding them lunch at no cost.
“We wanted to reach out to the law enforcement units of McDonough in an attempt to show our appreciation and solidarity towards the idea of the Police being the good guys who protect us every day,” said Starr.
“I can’t be mad at people who have been wronged or judged unfairly just because of the color of their skin,” he continued. “But pain should be a teacher, not a single determining factor in how we live our lives. Passing judgement on others serves no real purpose, only our Creator’s judgement should be of any concern. I hope that the good in people will be enough to stop the madness that is on display every time I turn on the news.”
The day underscored what is often the easiest way to bridge divides in our culture, which is simply reaching to and talking to those that we may look upon as different. In a culture that is becoming increasingly more polarizing, where people cluster together and go off to their racial, political, socioeconomic or ethnic corners every time a potentially inflamed issue occurs, it’s important to spread ripples of decency, compassion and respect towards those we feel we have nothing in common.
“A lot of people look at us as not being approachable,” said Officer Gregory Lyons of the McDonough police department. “We’re human too, you know. We’re fathers and we’re approachable. Walk up and shake our hand, have a conversation with us. If you have an opinion, share it with us. If you have a question, you can ask us.”
Some of the players recognize that football is bigger than a game and a platform to influence the community.
“It’s been great feeding police officers and washing people’s cars,” sophomore quarterback and Jaylon West said. “Today’s been a good day to come out and serve our community, to try to set the example to be better people and help overcome some of the bad things the world is going through,”
The players were also appreciative of seeing people come out to support the program on a stifling hot day.
“I think the event has been a way to help build our county environment,” said senior tight end and linebacker Keith Pittard. “It brings a lot of people together, with them showing us support that will help us build our confidence to play this year.”
Although the team didn’t hit their fundraising goal, Coach Starr said meeting the McDonough Police and Henry County sheriff deputies was worth doing the event. If you’d like to donate to the Warhawk Football Program, please send a check to: Henry County HS, C/O Warhawk Football Program, 401 Tomlinson St, McDonough, GA 30253