Riding the Wave of Goodness

As a surfer, I find the rolling waves to be full of meaning. As a tiny speck on the edge of a vast ocean, I observe their steady motion towards me and instinctively calculate where to place myself to be in a position to catch the biggest wave that offers me the best shape for the best ride. The process of observation offers me much time for contemplation as I wait for the right wave.

In my sixty-plus years of observing the waves of life, I’ve ridden a few good ones and some very bad ones. The bad ones are punishing. They tempt you with their size. Instinctively you can tell that the shape isn’t right, but you give in to the temptation and take off anyway. After it’s too late and you’re screaming down the face, you realize you have nowhere to go and the wave is going to break on top of you. The punishing pressure of the lip hitting you takes you to the bottom. The thing about the bottom is that it’s dark and quiet down there. But there’s no air. And the mental challenge of remaining calm and waiting for the right moment to resurface begins. I’ve been to the bottom as a surfer and in real life. Those experiences change the way you surf and the way you live.

I don’t know about you, but here in the United States it’s feeling to me like we’re riding the wrong wave. And the consequences are looking pretty terrifying. At the same time, as I sit on my surfboard observing the energy in the ocean, I see another wave. It’s yet distant. It’s one of those waves that causes all of the surfers in the lineup to flatten themselves on their surfboards and begin paddling outside as fast as they can. All but the most non-observant can see it coming and that it’s massive.

In the work that I do as the founder of Salaam and the author of a book about making peace with the Muslim world, I’m fortunate in that I often find myself speaking to or meeting with individuals or groups who help me feel the energy of this approaching wave. I felt it at Salaam’s very first Awareness Event at All Souls’ Episcopal. With very little promotion, the house was packed and the energy of hope and love bringing Muslims and non-Muslims together was almost overpowering.

I have felt it again and again and again. When I’m visiting a mosque or a church or a synagogue or a political action group. When I’m coordinating a team of amazing leaders to facilitate meaningful refugee integration conversations. When I’m talking to the general public at a book signing event in a bookstore. I feel the energy and see the awesome face of this wave of the goodness of humanity approaching and rising up before it breaks, allowing us all the thrill of dropping in and riding it to the sand.

So as we see and hear more alarming news on this July 4th, take hope and continue to be a part of this approaching wave. I’ll be watching for you in the surf lineup.

Salaam, Shalom, Peace, Mahalo

Steve Slocum