Kindness In A Cruel World

The kindness of Pastor John reveals him as a keeper of democracy.

By Shailynn Hammerstone from Berryville Arkansas Civic Journalism Camp in Arkansas

Democracy is freedom, freedom to worship under no requirements, freedom to have our own beliefs, and freedom to be who we want to be. As Amendment I states in the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

John Dicus, a 33 year old man from Arkansas, is a youth minister, father, and husband. Religion has become one of the most controversial topics in the world. When I interviewed John, he said, “To me, democracy kind of falls in line with freedom, and in America, we're super blessed to be able to worship freely with no stipulations, no control, and no rules that we have to follow.”

When asked how we could improve our democracy, John said, “We could all focus more on Christ. And even if we don't focus on Christ, [we should] focus on being kind to others. I think that's one thing we've lost this last year, especially with COVID, is that we've disconnected from people. And so I think reconnecting with people. reconnecting and learning how to love people again, and just being kind to people around us would be a huge change in our democracy and in our world.” Covid-19 also changed our democracy quite drastically. 2020 was a struggle for almost everyone around the world. The importance of being kind was at its peak.

John also stated that love and connection are very crucial parts in working for a better world and improving democracy. If we can’t love one another and be kind to each other, how are we supposed to keep this already hectic world from falling apart?

It’s a cruel world in a cruel time and kindness is often hard to experience. As a youth pastor, John has to constantly think ahead about everything he says and does in front of his kids. Even on his bad days, John has a smile on his face. Affecting others around him in a positive way, John takes pride in how he spreads kindness and positivity every day. “After college,” he said, “I was volunteering at a church in Little Rock where I lived working with teenagers and fell in love with how they learn things and just kind of just being able to be around them and invest in their lives.”. Practicing what he preaches, John urges his kids to spread love, kindness, and positivity. While taking care of his family, students, and community, John is a keeper of democracy by taking the time to contribute to making the world a better place.

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The Our Democracy Education Project is a partnership with the National Writing Project and PhotoWings. PhotoWings' mission is to help photography to be better understood, created, utilized, seen, and saved. The project is also supported by the National Geographic Society and Catchlight, and explores the question, “What does democracy look like?” through the creation of a multimedia record of the state of local, everyday democracy today.