Gunfire on the streets of LA is not a new sound. It usually changes lives. It often brings tears. It sometimes ends lives. It always changes the world. This past week the sound of gunfire rang out almost continuously in Los Angeles all week long. The gunfire changed lives. The gunfire brought many tears. The gunfire changed the world. The guns were not Saturday night specials or sawed off shotguns. They were not used to end lives. They were not used to settle arguments. They were not used in anger. They were not used by gang bangers or criminals.
This week was special and the guns were special. Instead of being used to take someone down, the guns were used to build up. Instead of tears of sadness, these guns created tears of joy. Instead of ending lives, these guns were used to help people begin new lives.
Instead of gang members pulling the trigger, the guns were in the hands of people from all walks of life. The people firing the guns were doctors, teachers, janitors, athletes, politicians, actors, accountants, iron workers, factory workers, singers, truck drivers, constructions workers and even President Jimmy Carter.
The Habitat For Humanity Jimmy Carter Work Project spent last week in Los Angeles helping build 30 new homes and renovating 35 existing homes. The guns that rang out were not firing bullets. The guns fired nails and were being used by thousands of volunteers from all over the world to build and renovate homes.
I was fortunate enough to be able to work on several of the new Habitat Homes being built in San Pedro overlooking the Port of Los Angeles. I worked side by side with families who were buying these homes. These beautiful families had worked hundreds of hours with Habitat just to be able to buy these homes. These good people used their "sweat equity" hours as a down payment and Habitat helped finance the balance of the home.
As I stood overlooking this building site in San Pedro, I got chills thinking about how the world was changing right before my eyes. I thought about how anger comes from the head and not the heart. I was witnessing how miracles can occur when people listen to their hearts instead of their heads. I watched as people who never thought they could make much of a difference, came to the realization that we had changed the world. It is an exciting and powerful feeling. I look for a day when everyone can feel that feeling. I look for the day when everyone will let their hearts tell their hands what to do. When that day comes, the guns of war, the guns of violence and the guns of hatred will be silenced.