George, George, Bill, Barack & more

Of all the images that stood out this week (besides Duchess Kate looking amazingly smashing a mere 7 hours after giving birth), there was one picture that spoke volumes to all who are willing to listen. Here at the funeral of one of America’s finest First Ladies, stood the eight of them…

George the father.

George the son.

Laura.

Barack.

Michelle.

Bill.

Hillary.

And Melania.

At first glance, the differences amongst the eight seem strong. With further, intentional reflection, the eight are recognized as having something in common none of the rest of us are even close to sharing (save for Georgia’s Jimmy and Rosalynn and the current President, who consistent with protocol was not in attendance.) They form an exclusive, unique club.

They are a diverse group…  from 47 to 93 years old… from one in a wheelchair who still skydives… to another who is passionate about crossword puzzles… to another who bikes regularly, often with veterans… to another who still shoots the basketball  and loves college analysis…

… Not to mention their wives, who have their own sweet passions, interests, gifting, and skill sets… 

They are a unique group of people.

They are a diverse group of people.

And note (BIG NOTE): they don’t all think even close to the same way.

And yet, they each seem to recognize they have more in common than they do not.

(Do their followers and fans recognize that?)

In a day to honor Barbara Bush, smiling, enjoying the moment, they arguably seem to recognize what they uniquely have in common. I love this! In fact, I asked one of my most politically astute friends, a former AP Government teacher, “What’s your reaction to this iconic photo of the eight?”

She said:

“Whole. Peaceful. Civility. 

Grace. Warmth. Comforted. Blessed.

That these men and women gave with their hearts in good and not so good.”

Oh, how I love that!

That they gave!!

Of course, we do not always think like them. Of course, we do not always agree with them. They do not, in fact, always agree with one another. But we must be bigger. We must be wiser. We must embrace more than the very limiting, divisive, partisan echo chambers.

I keep thinking about the reason the astute group gathered… for the funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush. People raved about her… about her honesty… frankness… truthfulness… faith… and ultimate sincerity.

More than anything else it seems, friends acknowledged Barbara Bush’s incredible ability to speak the truth in love.

… to speak the truth in love…

Oh, do we have much to learn… starting with having more in common than we do not.

Respectfully…

AR

what’s wrong with us?

At the end of last month, the world’s largest Chick-fil-A opened in New York City. Standing five stories tall in the Financial District — with its included rooftop terrace — the Fulton Street Chick-fil-A opened to an enthusiastic crowd, eager to get their hands on that tasty fried “fil-A.” (Personally, I tend to crave those tasty grilled nuggets along with the “superfood” broccolini and kale blend.)

It took little time, no less, for The New Yorker contributor Dan Piepenbring to blast one of the country’s most popular fast food franchises, calling it a “creepy infiltration of New York City.” 

Said Piepenbring: “… the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism…”

The piece elaborates by mocking and criticizing much — from Christianity to all things Chick-fil-A — their practice of being closed on Sundays, their intentional sense of community, their slogans, smell, spelling, and promotional use of the cow… “If the restaurant is a megachurch, the Cows are its ultimate evangelists… The joke is that the Cows are out of place in New York—a winking acknowledgment that Chick-fil-A, too, does not quite belong here…” The author adds that Chick-fil-A’s “arrival in the city augurs worse than a load of manure on the F train.” 

The author takes issue with statements and support Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made six years ago, speaking out against gay marriage. He sincerely disagrees with Cathy, but then allows his disagreement with Cathy’s personal conviction to evolve into a denigration of the entire existence of the franchise.

Let’s acknowledge other activity by Chick-fil-A…

When a major power outage stranded tens of thousands of passengers at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport last December, Chick-fil-A (on a Sunday), handed out sandwiches and water. Said a spokesperson for the company: “The mayor called about 10pm and asked for assistance. We immediately mobilized staff and team members who live and work near the airport, and they are making sandwiches and delivering them to the EOC (emergency operations center). City and airport officials there are distributing sandwiches to passengers who are stranded due to the power outage. It has been a very difficult day for thousands of travelers, and while Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sunday, our restaurants open occasionally to serve communities in need. We do not make a profit, but do what we can to offer comfort to people experiencing hardship.”

In January in Georgia, all food was stolen from a food pantry set to distribute meals to more than 60 families. When hearing the news, multiple nearby Chick-fil-A locations promoted one evening in which they offered a free sandwich or nuggets to any who brought canned food to donate and help re-stock the ministry’s shelves.

Chick-fil-A is known for countless examples of giving to those in need — from the over $19 million given in scholarships the past 14 years through the Peach Bowl — to the Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, “an annual charity motorcycle tour to raise money for, among other charities, Victory Junction, a camp for terminally ill children.”

Perhaps the most poignant example, however, but omitted in The New Yorker column, was how Chick-fil-A responded in the immediate aftermath of the deadly shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando in 2016. Multiple Chick-fil-A employees (again, on a Sunday) worked and took free food to the scene. Said a company spokesman: “The events in Orlando stirred our local restaurant owners and their teams to band together to provide nourishment to first responders as well as volunteers who donated blood. We do not think this requires any recognition. It is the least we can do in this community we love.”

… the least we can do in this community we love…

What’s wrong with us?

What’s wrong when the only angle we can see — even in valid disagreement — keeps us from seeing any other good in another?

Respectfully… always…

AR

find the joy… thanks, Barbara.

We live in a viciously partisan atmosphere. Sadly. While the viciousness may or may not be rooted in valid emotion, the vicious expressions are making life worse and damaging relationships. It matters. We are losing respect for one another.

Hence, if there is ever a moment the Intramuralist can highlight that shows what’s better — what’s good and right and true and thus moves beyond the hatred and partisan viciousness — we’re going to grab it. We’re going to talk about it. And we’re going to encourage something better and wiser in one another.

Today, we find a glimpse of the better.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away yesterday at 92 years old. For 73 years she was married to George Bush, a man she met at a Christmas dance as a young teen. Before marrying, George, went off to World War II as a Navy torpedo bomber pilot. He later named three of his planes: Barbara, Barbara II, and Barbara III. There was something sweet about Barbara and George.

That sweetness is evident in her words…

“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people — your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.”

“Cherish your human connections — your relationships with friends and family.”

“You are a human being first and those human connections — with spouses, with children, with friends — are the most important investments you will ever make.”

“You have to love your children unselfishly. That is hard. But it is the only way.”

“Our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

“You may think the president is all-powerful, but he is not. He needs a lot guidance from the Lord.”

“Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.”

“I have had great medical care and more operations than you would believe. I’m not sure God will recognize me; I have so many new body parts!”

“Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give.”

“Bias has to be taught. If you hear your parents downgrading women or people of different backgrounds, why, you are going to do that.”

“You get nothing done if you don’t listen to each other.”

“Never ask anyone over 70 how they feel. They’ll tell you.”

“I have no fear of death, which is a huge comfort because we’re getting darn close. I don’t have a fear of death for my precious George, or for myself, because I know that there is a great God, and I’m not worried.”

“One of the reasons I made the most important decision of my life — to marry George Bush — is because he made me laugh. It’s true, sometimes we’ve laughed through our tears, but that shared laughter has been one of our strongest bonds. Find the joy in life, because as Ferris Bueller said on his day off , ‘Life moves pretty fast. Ya don’t stop and look around once in a while, ya gonna miss it!’ (I am not going to tell George you clapped more for Ferris than you did for George.)”

What a sweet, wise, and witty woman. Sweeter still, perhaps, is the gracious glimpse we have available this day, moving beyond the viciousness.

Find the joy.

Respectfully…

AR

loving our neighbor well

Check all that apply:

  1. Being black doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  2. Being white doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  3. Being Hispanic doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  4. Being Asian doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  5. Being European doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  6. Being Jewish doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  7. Being Christian doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  8. Being Muslim doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  9. Being Hindu doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  10. Being Buddhist doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  11. Being atheist doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  12. Being agnostic doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  13. Being poor doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  14. Being wealthy doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  15. Being elderly doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  16. Being a teenager doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  17. Being gay doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  18. Being straight doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  19. Being an immigrant doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  20. Being a citizen doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  21. Being a Democrat doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  22. Being a Republican doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  23. Being conservative doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  24. Being liberal doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  25. Being a member of the Congressional Black Caucus doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  26. Being a member of the Tea Party Caucus doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  27. Being a member of the Auto Care Caucus, Small Brewers Caucus, or Bourbon Caucus doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  28. Being a Donald Trump voter doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  29. Being a Hillary Clinton voter doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  30. Being an independent voter doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  31. Being a Millennial doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  32. Being a GenX-er doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  33. Being a Baby Boomer doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  34. Being well-educated doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  35. Being white collar doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  36. Being blue collar doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  37. Being physically disabled doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  38. Being cognitively impaired doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  39. Being a Patriots fan doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  40. Being a LeBron fan doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  41. Being a FOX News viewer doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  42. Being an MSNBC viewer doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  43. Being pro-choice doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  44. Being pro-life doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  45. Being a supporter of climate change doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  46. Being an opposer of climate change doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  47. Being a Socialist doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  48. Being a Federalist doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  49. Being one who disagrees with me doesn’t keep me from loving that person well.
  50. All of the above.

Note: if we can’t check choice #50 — “all of the above” — that means we are doing something lesser than loving all people well.

If we are not loving all people well, are we as wise as we think we are? Where do we each need to grow?

Respectfully…

AR

me first (at least at EPCOT)

One of the benefits of living in central Florida is the proximity to all things Disney… Disney World, Disney Springs, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Wide World of Sports — not to mention all the other amusements and amusement parks that accompany the characters and fanfare.

Recently we were at EPCOT, one of Disney’s primary theme parks in Bay Lake/Lake Buena Vista. FYI: EPCOT, is an acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney. In Disney’s words: “EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed but will always be introducing and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.”

EPCOT is one piece of the Disney puzzle that seems simply to overflow with joy, opportunity, and goodwill. It is no doubt a wonderful place to be.

On our recent visit, no less, we incurred a slight challenge. We had a complication with a previous reservation that caused some confusion. Hence, we went to Guest Relations, hoping they could amend the issue.

There were other people there — other people in line.

There were other issues.

As we awaited our turn, with multiple service reps swiftly tending to customers, the line also grew behind us.

Then came him.

There was nothing that immediately stood out about “him”… modestly dressed, most likely a tourist, middle-aged, no doubt. He had a spouse… some kids, too, although each were aptly silent. “Him,” however, was kind of loud…

“This is ridiculous!

I came all the way here — my whole family! 

And they can’t take care of this immediately?!

They make us wait in line?!

This is ridiculous!!

Someone better $#^&@!!’n help us NOW!”

Never mind that there were other people in line. Never mind that there were other issues. Never mind that there were other people who also needed help. “Him” demanded that he be helped “now.” “Him” could only see the issues that affected “him,” and he was thus blind to all the needs of those around “him.”

God bless those Disney cast members. They politely came and removed the gentleman (a loosely used term today), taking him to an area in which his boisterousness would be somewhat less visible and disrupting. 

But it was fascinating that “him’s” needs superseded all awareness of the validity of any other need around “him.” He was mad and wasn’t going to take it anymore. Sadly, it contributed to his growing self-focus.

The rest of us in line, each awaiting attention to our diverse, individual needs, simply kind of stood there… silent for a moment or two. We were each aware that our needs were different, but also valid. We were also each aware that this one man cared nothing for the rest of us; he could only see himself. His need/pain/issue was most likely valid, but he could not see anything other than self.

The man now directly behind us broke the semi-awkward silence. Also quite modest in appearance and countenance, he simply, slowly uttered, “Yep, it’s the happiest place on Earth.”

Respectfully…

AR

go, grow, & Tiger, too

I am not the same person today.

I’ve grown. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve grown some more. Made more mistakes.

Thankfully, there is progress — although sometimes progress up close looks like two steps forward and one step back. Stand far away from me, and you might not see it; you’ll only see my backwards step.

“There he goes again…

He’ll never change… she’ll never change.

Same old, same old…

Once a ‘whatever,’ always a ‘whatever’…”

But that’s not true. I am not the same. While sometimes I look the same, talk the same, maybe even give the outward impression that I’m acting the same, it’s simply not true. I have grown. But from far away, you can’t see all the growth — not while it’s happening. You can’t see growth in another person when you are so far away from them.

Hence, we cling to what often, eventually evolves into inaccurate assessments of another.

With much of my family tuned in to professional golf’s Masters Tournament this weekend, I was again reminded of the wisdom in allowing another to grow… to refuse to hold on to an old perspective, even if it was valid at the time it was formed.

Valid then does not make it valid now, contrary to what might be easiest to believe.

I cheer on my favorite golfers this weekend (go, Jordan, Bubba, Zach J., and Phil!). One more I cheer on is Eldrick “Tiger” Woods.

I suppose, though, I cheer on Tiger for a bit of a different reason. 

I want to see him grow.

As has been previously chronicled, the one-time dominant Woods experienced ample professional and personal fallout. In the midst of multiple back surgeries, Woods also faced significant damage to his perceived character and reputation, with the acknowledgement of numerous extramarital indiscretions and affairs. He has spent years, seemingly attempting to recoup both his professional and personal standing.

Leading up to the Masters, in fact, it was a refreshing change this week to see Tiger on the golf course, practicing with long time rival Phil Mickelson — laughing, fist-bumping, playing together. The relationship between the competitors was always a little icy, dicy, etc., but at Mickelson’s invitation, we witnessed something different this week. Said Phil, “I find that I want him [Tiger] to play well, and I’m excited to see him play so well.”

Hmmm… maybe they’ve grown. I’m not absolute certain, of course. I’m too far away.

There are few things more attractive in a person than maturity and growth. Growth is so beautiful and contagious! I’m fearful, however, that we miss out on the beauty in so many because we hold them to an expectation of behavior that was true before… just maybe not now.

Back to Tiger. He’s competitive again, and so the press and publicity increases immensely. Publicity can be good. Or not.

Reports swirled earlier in the week that Tiger’s most recent ex-girlfriend signed a nondisclosure agreement regarding their relationship and why it ended, as indiscretions may have again been involved. (Remember the key word is “may.”)

Sigh. I hope such is not true.

But here’s the key. Even if such is true and is similar to past behavior, it does not mean Tiger has failed to grow. It may be two steps forward, one step back. It may be no steps whatsoever. But from my vantage point — the reality of being this far away — I can’t see.

Go, Tiger, go… Go, also, Jordan, Bubba, Zach J., and Phil…

Let’s all grow while we’re at it, too.

Respectfully…
AR

does WiFi make us smarter?

Only 20 years ago were we first able to “Google.”

Two years later came the iconic Nokia 3310, one of the most successful mobile phones, even developing a bit of a cult status of its own, with features rare for the time.

Soon after came Wikipedia and Skype.

2004 then brought us Facebook and Flickr.

And by 2005, 16% of the world’s population now had internet access. That number would almost double five years later.

Now in 2018, with the Digital Revolution of the Information Age fast upon us — or recently past, pending varied observation — look at us. What has happened? What has happened to us?

We have all this information at our fingertips. We can find out pretty much anything we want with the touch of a few buttons, the opening of an app, or the slide of some inanimate bar. Information is better, faster, and more.

As University of Tennessee law professor, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, said years ago as the age evolved and internet expanded:

“I’m writing this in a bar right now, and I have most of human knowledge at my fingertips. Okay, it’s not really a bar. It’s a campus pizza place, albeit one with 27 kinds of beer on tap, a nice patio and — most importantly — a free 802.11b ‘Wi-Fi’ wireless Internet hookup. With that, and Google, there’s not much that I can’t find out. If I’m curious about the Hephthalite huns or the rocket equation or how much money Fritz Hollings has gotten from the entertainment industry, I can have it in less time than it takes the barmaid to draw me a beer.”

So the logical question is whether this better, faster, more information is making us smarter? Is that what’s happening to us?…

… or not?

As Reynolds poignantly pointed out this week in his USA Today opinion piece, “People don’t seem to have gotten significantly smarter or better-informed.”

Why?

We have all this information, but we…

… reserve the right to think whatever we want…
… reserve the right to treat opinion sources as fact…
… and we reserve the right to ignore perspective (or think lesser of it) if it makes our truth a little less convenient.

So I ask again: why?

Is this where social media is playing an unintended role? Are we allowing social media to dictate our sense of understanding, even with all this info at hand? Or is approval and popularity distorting understanding?

In other words, have “likes,” “dislikes,” and those angry emojis, etc. become our barometers of perceived wisdom?

Said Reynolds, “Facebook and social media are exploiting our evolutionary need for approval. That’s one reason the Internet and WiFi aren’t making us smarter.” 

“Like” does not equate to accurate nor wise.

Maybe we post an article totally denigrating a single political party. Someone approves.

We share a rant that downright belittles another person. Someone gives us a thumbs up.

In a snap or thread, we lambaste the one who disagrees. We get a few “ha ha’s,” maybe even a “good one!”

But tell me: since when did denigration, belittlement, and lambasting qualify as a sign of wisdom?

We have all this information available, and yet, the better, faster, and more doesn’t seem to be making us smarter at all.

Respectfully…
AR

 

[See entire article from Glenn Harlan Reynolds here.]