Soon, the Division 1 Basketball tournament will be underway. Apparently in 1939, an official at an Illinois high school, Henry Porter, wrote this about the annual competition. “A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.” While I agree that basketball is a healthy distraction, sadly it has yet to keep any society on an even keel.

Tragically there is another March madness happening right now that is anything but a distraction. As I write this, over 2 million people have refugee status from Ukraine thanks to the incarnate evil we are witnessing. Picture the Rose Bowl stadium filled to the brim. Now envision 20 more such stadiums and you have the unfathomable image of how many people are suffering. Women, children, men, and innocent creatures have been cruelly and unspeakably upended because of one man. One human being with the capacity to leave a broken maniacal legacy.

Most days since the invasion began, I have felt speechless. Tears have rolled down my cheeks and I have felt quite helpless. It is difficult to conceive that in 2022 we still live in a world in which such things happen.

While there is little I can do to help Ukranians, other than praying fervently, sending dollars to a variety of organizations, and keeping the people of Ukraine front and center in my consciousness, I have come to another realization. If one person can create so much harm, it is also possible that you and I as individuals can cause much good wherever we happen to find ourselves.

Daily, you and I can make a decision to follow Jesus more closely. We can act in Jesus’ spirit of love and healing. We can lift the spirits of others, we can avoid engaging in destructive conflict with people we know well or are strangers, and we can build people up. We can make a choice not to engage in divisive harmful political polarization and refuse to support candidates from any party that lie, heckle, mislead, or implement self-serving policies that hurt people. We can disengage from off the rail conspiracy theories.

We can become intentional about ramping up gratitude for what is right, help others know that love and love in action is all that matters, and make decisions that reflect our care for God’s creation. We can directly admit our mistakes and speak the truth even when it is hard. We can seek integrity and do the right thing, albeit imperfectly.

We can be sensitive to the horrific struggles and degrading comments that immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ population face each day. We can acknowledge that white nationalism is a huge problem in our country. We can take the high road and avoid getting into tit for tats with those with whom we disagree. We can embrace the truth that all people are made in the image of and loved beyond our wildest imaginings by God, even when some people act in ways that are the antithesis of such truth.

We need not align Jesus with political candidates. We can acknowledge that some Christians are acting in ways that cause immeasurable harm. We can appreciate and celebrate the fact that people have a relationship with God through various faith traditions. We can accept that our own personal wisdom is quite limited and learn to live with humility and empathy.

And while there is more we can do, we can ramp up our engagement in communities of faith where together we encourage one another, help each other, and journey together toward loving God, others and ourselves more and more each day. Right now we need each other as much as we ever have. Let us choose to follow Jesus with more passion and intention recognizing that like a single drop on a pond, each of us can have a ripple effect that changes everything.