We are living in a time of unprecedented circumstances. Sadly, this is not Norman Rockwell's America! The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked our world with a virus that has taken thousands of lives, slowed commerce, shut down businesses, delayed school assemblies, prevented athletic competition and thoroughly disrupted our lives. The optimism of fully reopening our society is now in question as public health remains the top priority as a result of a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The prolonged effects of self-isolation is demoralizing our society and generating serious mental health concerns with depression and suicide. Family life, with childcare, schooling options and job shutdowns are disconcerting. Lest we overlook the additional crises in our nation, there are demonstrations on our streets with rioting, looting, violence and killing. Did I mention, this is also an election year? Yes, some would think these are the "worst of times," as Charles Dickens would write.

We are living in a "caustic" moment of history. Our society is divided along political, racial and philosophical lines. The communication tone in America has become severely vitriolic and venomous. Rhetoric is acidic and harsh. Civility and mutual respect has become extinct. This is a time of caustic chaos!

For those of us who are "optimistic realists," we must, "Combine a positive attitude with an honest evaluation of the challenges you may meet along your path. Along with imagining what it is you would like the outcome to be, imagine the steps you will take to overcome the challenges." (Dr. Mara Karpel).

We must all refuse to be infected by a culture of caustic chaos. Our society needs moral leadership that inspires hope, proactive solutions and bridges of reconciliation. We must envision a future that unites our citizens and together resolve to create a more perfect union, as described in our Declaration of Independence.

We must determine to do the hard work of problem resolution by sitting down with those whom we disagree and together forge solutions that will provide a better way of life for all. Impossible? Not for the optimistic realist! The greatest crisis in America is leadership. The greatest crisis in leadership is character. Indeed, moral leadership is the need in a moment of caustic chaos.

The Christian leader, in this moment of caustic chaos, is enabled by their unwavering faith in God and the hope of the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is a message of hope, love and reconciliation. It casts a vision of peace and brotherhood. It establishes the standard of equality for people of all races, sexes, ethnicities and cultures. All people matter, equally. We are optimistic of our future, both eternally and temporally, because Christ calls us, leads us and blesses us as we do all things for His glory. As stated by the aged Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

In our corner of this nation, let us endeavor to make a difference. We must let our light shine for our Lord and Savior and be a part of the solution in our neighborhoods, civic organizations, churches and government. Let us get out of the salt shaker and be the salt we are called to be. With our mutual optimism and realistic approach to problem resolution, we will make a difference!

Have a great week and remember, God loves YOU!

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