making our lists

We’re making our lists and checking them twice.  Maybe even 3 or 4 times.  There’s so much to do!

 

Yes, isn’t that the irony of the season?

 

As the holiday has evolved — knowing evolution often distorts meaning and potentially reality — perhaps our most significant progression of the meaning of Christmas is that we’ve centered so much of the meaning around what we are doing as opposed to who we are being.

 

What do we do?

 

Hang the stockings with care.

Fill them.

Roast chestnuts (ok, so maybe not really… remember the distortion of reality…)

Wrap presents.

Wrap more presents.

Cook.

Clean.

Call our mothers.

Dress up like eskimos.

Run to the grocery.

Stand in line at the post office.

Finish up work.

Purchase one more gift card.

Deliver those gift cards.

Eat.

Eat some more.

And more.

 

The point is that we focus on the doing.  Truth is, that seems our human nature.

 

As the events of the past week have unfolded — as we’ve grieved the horror of happenings in Newtown, Connecticut — in our passionate, admirable need to respond — we continue to focus on what we can do…  establish tougher gun control laws… put guns in every school… invest more in mental health… tinker with the 2nd amendment… etc. etc. etc.  The point is that it seems our innate human response is to attempt to do something… as if we, yes, we, can control it.  We can stop this from happening if we only do something.

 

It is a far more ambiguous, intangible — albeit rewarding, growth-oriented — practice to focus on who we are… who we are and what we were created to be.  It takes more time; it’s not as black and white; it’s less legalistic.  It also causes us to be still… to pause, reflect, and take both ownership and responsibility for our individual strengths and weaknesses, our right and wrongful thinking.  Newsflash, friends:  we each have all of the above.

 

That’s hard to wrestle with.  It is challenging indeed, for example, to actually wrestle with what caused that gunman to snap, mercilessly murdering those innocent children.  What was in his head?  Where was the wrongful thinking?  How has society contributed to that?  Where have we morally accepted what is not good and true and right?  Where is my wrongful thinking?  Where am I not acting and behaving and thinking as wisely as I should?

 

In order to answer those questions accurately, I need to be still, wrestling with the rawness of the answer.  Wrestling, though, often makes us uncomfortable.  Hence, we jump into doing — because doing is actually easier than being.

 

The coming of Christmas is not about candles and cookies nor even chestnuts nor children.  The meaning of Christmas centers around the incarnation of a God who loves us because of who we are — not because of anything that we do.

 

Who are we?  Persons with individual strengths and weaknesses, even right and wrongful thinking… persons tempted to do.

 

Respectfully,

AR

the end of the world

It’s the end of the world as we know it.
It’s the end of the world as we know it.

 

Truthfully, long before R.E.M.’s popular, 1987 musical refrain, many have consistently experienced the end of the world as they know it…  long before R.E.M… before and after the revelation of the new age translation of the currently publicized Mayan Indian prophecies.

 

Briefly, for those of you unfamiliar with Mayan prophecy — noting that this specific calculation is not adhered to by professional Mayanist scholars, yet predicts a series of unknown cataclysmic events — the world is scheduled to end this Friday, December 21, 2012.  (In other words, if your Christmas shopping isn’t complete, feel great freedom to forgo it.)

 

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

 

Any time the end of the world is definitively foretold, it always gets me thinking, as it’s long been humanity’s habit to proclaim our unique omniscience, especially — for some reason — in grandiose matters.  From Y2K to 2011‘s Harold Camping to Pompeii, Italy to the arrival of Halley’s Comet, humans have long specifically predicted the date and time of the bloody end to the planet.  Uh, best I can tell, with all due respect, of course, to date, they’ve all been wrong.

 

I do chuckle inside somewhat…  I mean, the historical scriptures affirm that no one will know the hour nor the day; somehow, however, people continue to miss that rather obvious point.  In light of the current December doom, in fact, I also chuckled at NASA’s response.  The government space agency released a statement saying that Friday will actually not be Earth’s end.  Hmmm… My sense is that if no one knows the actual hour nor the day, then the ancient Mayans couldn’t have known it… and NASA — smart as those scientists may be — wouldn’t know it for certain either.

 

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

 

For the moment (dare we) — perhaps only for posterity’s sake — let’s entertain this idea that Friday — or today or Sunday or even next Wednesday or Thursday — actually is the end of the world; how would we live differently?  … beginning today?

 

How would we act differently?

What relationships would we invest in?

What would we be more intentional about?

 

We’d hug our kids a little tighter.

We’d tell our loved ones that we love them.

We’d affirm those around us, focusing on their strengths, as opposed to chastising their weaknesses.

We’d be less partisan.

We’d offer generous grace.

We’d omit no truth with that full application of grace.

We’d quit spending more than we take in… (wait… since those bills wouldn’t arrive until after Friday…)

We’d listen more.

We’d take time to figure out who God is and who we are in relation to him.

We’d be still.

We’d give more.

We’d take less.

We’d be aware of the beauty of the moment.

We’d look at the skies and be in humble awe of creation.

We’d give thanks.

We’d forgive.

And we would love lavishly and generously… no matter what.

 

If we did all that, we could belt the last line of R.E.M.’s refrain — remaining unfazed by events out of our control.  Intentional living is good and true regardless of world events… from the tragedy of Newtown, the wrangling in Washington, and yes, even those ancient Mayan prophecies.  It doesn’t matter when the world will end, as intentional living girds us with peace; we can be fine.  Fine?  Actually, that’s the last line of the song…

 

It’s the end of the world as we know it.
It’s the end of the world as we know it.
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

 

Fine it is.  P.S.  Hope you read this before Friday.

 

Respectfully… always…

AR

a hope that lasts

Still 4 days later, it’s hard to focus on something else…

 

We could focus on the number of shopping days left, but they pale in comparison.

 

We could focus on solving the so-called “fiscal cliff,” but that, too — even with its almost unimaginable depth of debt — pales in comparison.

 

We could focus on all sorts of things; each would pale in comparison…

 

… except maybe…

… just maybe…

… the meaning of Christmas.

 

I realize to many the story is simply too old.  A baby, born in a manger, in swaddling clothes with no room in some ancient inn… what exactly are “swaddling” clothes, anyway?  Let’s face it:  the story is old.  The meaning, however, is timeless.  In the aftermath of Connecticut, when we continue to rush to justice — when we definitively aver that these horrific events must never happen again, when we find some solace in our own, at least perceived resoluteness — we need a lasting message… a truth that is timeless.  No speech nor warm wish, nor legislation, movement, or monetary investment compares to the lasting, old meaning of Christmas.

 

That babe — born some 2,000 years ago — is said to be the only being ever capable of fully and ultimately ushering in peace and bestowing goodwill to men.  Fascinating in the study of world religion, no other proclaimed deity has fulfilled the profound prophecies of Jesus Christ.  No other faithful figure has made the claims he’s made and been able to back them up.  For no other have the words come true.

 

Peace.  Goodwill to men.  Lasting.  Many have tried to find a solution, to offer healing, to keep bad stuff from happening again — seeking means, movements, and monies that would at least put a better-feeling Band-Aid on those evil, earthly events.  The motive seems somewhat pure; we don’t want to hurt anymore; we don’t want innocent others to hurt either.  But none are fully capable; none carry a lasting, effective meaning.  Hence, no movement or legislation, well-intentioned as it may be, is capable of being more than a so-called Band-Aid.

 

When I think of the 20 kids who died in Connecticut, I need to be reminded of something I know will work… that I know will be an authentic solution.  I think of peace.  I need to know it’s available.  I think of goodwill… to all men.  I need to be encouraged to generously offer that goodwill.  Hence, I need a lasting hope to hold on to.  Why?  Because nothing temporary makes sense.  Even though potentially good and well-intentioned, “Band-Aids” are temporary.  And while temporary may seem necessary and helpful and may appease our passions for the moment, we forget that underneath the Band-Aid only exists a deeper scar.  My desire for each of us is not to adhere what covers up the wound — but rather, what wrestles with the deeper scar.

 

Did we cross some sort of line on Friday?

Did society finally go too far?

Did we pass a point of accepted immorality that no longer we can stand?

 

And better yet, did Friday’s horrific act finally get our attention?

 

Ah, great discussion… one that no doubt we would each benefit from should we engage in respectful, listening-prioritized dialogue.

 

My sense is no new lines of morality were crossed.  Instead, arguably, our senses and souls have been heightened with a renewed awareness.

 

For Band-Aids?

 

No, for a hope that will last.

 

Thank God.

 

Thanks for the coming of Christmas.

 

Respectfully,

AR

selective morality

As all times when we are so shockingly rattled, the race to reaction is furious and fast.  When scenarios and circumstance significantly disturb us, we immediately jump to the solution.  “If we only had tougher gun laws… eliminated the violent video games… cared more for the mentally ill… if we put an end to all the ‘war’ rhetoric…”  (note that the last of those suggestions seems oft hypocritically proclaimed, as violent rhetorical usage is often chastised until it’s convenient to employ for personal passion…)

 

The reality is, friends, that I understand the rapid reaction.  We probe possible cause and means of prevention.  We want justice.  The disturbance demands justice!  And when the victims are obviously, especially innocent — as in Newtown, Connecticut, where reportedly 20 of the victims are under the age of 10 — many of them kindergarteners — kindergarteners! — our need for justice is only magnified.

 

Thus, in our quest for justice, we attempt to find the way or the one thing that would solve the seemingly inherent problem, such as the gun laws, video game and rhetorical restrictions, etc.  “If we only had that!…”  Those are wise, appropriate conversations that we should have.  The challenge, however, is that none attack the root of the issue; none address the actual bottom line, and if we fail to tackle the bottom line, shocking scenarios will continue.  They may look a little different — possibly utilizing different weapons and words — but we will feel the same.  Still shocked.  Still rattled.  Still so disturbed.

 

How could someone actually do this?!”  It doesn’t make any sense.

 

It’s sad.  It’s grievous.  But evil exists on this planet.  I recognize that such is not a popular thing to either say or believe.  In fact, I have been a part of many discussions where at some point in the conversation in order to press home a point, one person inserts their passionate perspective that “all people are inherently good.”  Some may be messed up or mentally ill or a ‘switch is off somewhere,’ but for the most part, we’re all pretty good.

 

Popular or not, the Intramuralist respectfully disagrees.

 

Each of us have witnessed friends and loved ones make some rather confounding choices.  We’ve known persons who’ve engaged in violent crime, salacious infidelity, and unfathomable professional wrongdoing.  Simply put:  we’ve known people who have made bad choices.

 

What we now identify as a “bad choice” has somehow changed.

 

The closer people are to us, the more likely we are to offer grace and potentially, possibly, even alter our moral standards.  We have become, it seems, as I like to describe, “selectively moral.”  The closer we are to the perpetrator, the more morally selective we’re tempted to be; on the other hand, the more emotionally distant we are, the easier it is for our need for justice to trump any extension of grace.  What could instead cause us to attempt to offer full justice and full grace — simultaneously?  The recognition that none of us are “pretty good.”  It’s about capability; we are each capable of becoming confused in our moral standards — thus each capable of making bad choices.

 

Ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.  The invisible qualities of an omnipotent creator have been made manifest.  Yes, evidence of God is all around us.  But yet, even though we’ve known God, we sometimes refuse to worship him or even give him thanks.  We begin to instead think up our own ideas of what God is like — as opposed to seeking what he says he is like.  We craft our own ideas — our own solutions — perhaps ideas that fit better with our individual experience and thus passions.  As a result, our minds can become confused.

 

When a person’s mind becomes confused, they typically come to worship or value something far lesser than the divine.  And my sense is when that happens — not knowing exactly how things work here on planet Earth — that at some point God abandons them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desire.  It’s similar to a parent/child relationship; we teach and encourage obedience, yet over time and the repetition of wrongful thinking and poor behavior, at some point, we give our children over to their own desires, hoping that they learn wisdom the hard way, potentially via the consequences of their own behavior.

 

As a result, therefore, of the shameful things in some persons’ hearts, people will do vile and degrading things.  That’s what we witnessed in Newtown on Friday.

 

It’s shocking.  It’s tragic.  And it doesn’t make any sense… even with our admirable demand for justice.

 

Respectfully… and with an incredibly heavy heart…

AR

the misplaced comma

As I was pulling out and dusting off my fairly impressive collection of Christmas music — ok, wait; that is total “impression management.”  It’s actually, almost a bold face lie.  Sorry.  I mean, yes, my collection is impressive, but the truth is (confession time, friends) that I listen to Christmas music all year round.  I know, I know… many of you wish the triumphant tunes were confined to December days only — perhaps some of you will even pause your loyal readership for a few weeks — but there’s something about singing “peace on Earth” and “goodwill toward men” that puts me in a good mood all year long.

 

Recently, though, as I was again humbly, vocally accompanying the recorded artist on the CD (fathom that idea), I stumbled upon an error in the way contemporary culture sings a song.  In fact, the words are still the same, but a singular punctuation mark has been moved; it profoundly changes the meaning of the song.  Yes, I uncovered the misplaced comma.

 

We sing “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.”

 

The song, however, was originally written as “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.”

 

Notice the placement of the comma.  That comma makes all the difference in the world.  We have changed the meaning of the song.

 

When we sing…

 

God rest ye, merry gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay

Remember, Christ, our Savior

Was born on Christmas day

To save us all from Satan’s power

When we were gone astray

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy!

 

… sometimes I think we act as if everything around us is happy…  like we are always happy.  “God rest you, happy people.”

 

Well, sometimes life isn’t happy.  In fact, a lot of days a lot of us have tough stuff to handle.  Life isn’t always happy, and a solid faith doesn’t necessarily make us merry.  While we may be able to tap into an inner joy and unparalleled peace — perhaps, something related to that peace on Earth — we’re still not always happy.  Christmas time, especially, is often a painful struggle for many.

 

Yet when we examine the misplaced comma and return it to its rightful place — “God rest ye merry, gentlemen” — and then we acknowledge that the 15th century carol, written in a minor, melodiously dark-sounding key — we see that the writer was not simply sitting back, believing it was so easy to be happy and merry.  The writer is encouraging each of us to rest in God’s merriment — in the joy available via the creator of the world — regardless of the darkness… regardless of that minor key.

 

I’ve heard it said that “if Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”  There’s a part of me that believes there’s a lot of truth in that.  Look at us running around these days.  We’re working and wrapping and buying and baking.  We’re spending so much time preparing for Christmas that we’re almost avoiding the meaning.

 

Hence, the encouragement to rest.

 

No matter what.

 

Resting in the merry.

 

Respectfully,

AR

diminishing Christmas?

As the shopping days dwindle and the ole’ familiar carols continue to play, I’m struck by a continuous topic in some circles this time of year:  is there a war on Christmas?

 

As posted previously amidst these pages, the Intramuralist isn’t into identifying something as war that actually is not.  In the past year we’ve seen the rhetorical rants regarding wars on women, teachers, unions, and coal, for example.  Truthfully, friends, the war terminology seems most employed when the goal is to drum up passion for like perspective.  War is war, and in my semi-humble opinion, it should never be treated as something it is not.

 

There do exist movements, no less, in which people work to diminish impact and influence.  Again, these cannot logically be equated with combat.  Therefore, the question this season is not whether there exists military combat on Christmas; the question is whether there exists an intentional movement to diminish the impact and influence of the Christian holiday.

 

We’ve discussed, past, eye-opening examples…

 

… such as in 2002, when New York City schools banned nativity scenes from their December decor but allowed for Hanukkah menorahs and Muslim stars and crescents…

 

… or how each year retailers, such as Sears, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, or The Gap have either avoided or been accused of avoiding the use of the word “Christmas,” opting instead for “holiday” and/or the watered-down “winter.”

 

The examples continue this current season…

 

… in Newhall, California, where residents of a senior apartment complex were originally told by building staff that they had to take down their Christmas tree because of the presence of Christ’s name in the phrase, “Christmas tree”…

 

… in Santa Monica, where a large-scale nativity scene has been publicly erected for the last 60 years, but atheists have long worked to halt any public, religious sentiment.  After a year long battle via courts and complaints, the Santa Monica City Council finally voted to prevent any and all religious displays on public property.  (Notice the diminished impact.)

 

… or even overseas… where in Brussels, Belgium, they omitted their popular city Christmas tree exhibit this year.  Why?  There were concerns that the local Muslim population would find it “offensive.”

 

Yes, in this sensitive, seemingly uncanny age of correctness, many institutions still choose to address the Christmas controversy (not combat) by paying equal attention to other seasonal holidays.  Typically, this means ample consideration of Hanukkah for those who are Jewish and Kwanzaa for those who are African-American.  What I find unique about these celebrations is the comparison of the holidays…

 

Factually speaking, Hanukkah refers to 165 B.C. when Jewish rituals — which had been previously outlawed — where reinstated as the Jewish people managed to drive the Syrian army out of Jerusalem and reclaim their temple.  Hanukkah is the celebration of this victory; previous to the late 1800’s, Hanukkah was considered a minor holiday.

 

Kwanzaa, on the other hand, is factually more of an ethnic as opposed to religious holiday.  It was developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 as a way to celebrate and promote the African-American culture.

 

Christmas, no less, is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, in whom hundreds of prophecies were consequently fulfilled.

 

In other words, in this uncanny age of correctness — with of course all due respect — when we attempt to pay equal attention to all holidays, we are comparing reclaiming a temple with honor for an ethnic heritage with the birth of the savior of the world.

 

As said at the onset of this post, I don’t believe there is any so-called ongoing war.  I don’t.  But it certainly does seem that the excluding of acknowledgement and the equating of holidays is an attempt to diminish the impact that if true, the savior of the world would undoubtedly hold.

 

Respectfully,

AR

generous love

As I was once again tempted to count the shopping days left until the retail world’s biggest annual holiday, I was prompted to pause, challenged anew to focus on the actual meaning of this season.  I’m not sure I always get it.  Yes, I get that Christmas is far more than Santa and sleigh bells and egg nog and elves.  I get that it’s more than cookies and carols and those pied pipers and presents under our tree.  I get that.  I’m just not always certain I get or we get or even society gets the depth of what the day denotes.

 

Then I remembered the words of a contemporary wise man who suggested that this season is about generous love.  Not just love.  Not just generosity.  The meaning of the season centers around a love that is generous.  A love that is authentic and real.

 

As my pause prompted reflection, I couldn’t help but wonder where now on this planet we see evidence of that love… a love that is so big, unparalleled, sometimes overwhelming, often sacrificial.  A love that leaves a mark.  Yes, generous love leaves a mark.  That’s what I think neither we nor society gets.  I think we miss the mark.

 

So I interacted with multiple persons for whom that mark is obvious and deep.  This is what I found… this is what they said…

 

“Growing up I always told my mom, ‘I want to adopt children; there are too many that don’t have anyone to love them”… “Bottom line: we wanted to be parents and to raise a family.  We chose Ethiopia because we knew there was a need”… “I always thought people were crazy to adopt internationally, and now I’m one of them.  I was always amazed by the leap of faith I saw in those families, never expecting one day that was what God had in store for our family.”

 

Yes, I interacted with families who have chosen to adopt.  When reflecting on generous love, what other example comes closer to the concept than persons who have made the intentional choice to share all of their emotional and material resources with another?  … to forever alter their family?

 

“There was nothing about our situation that made this ‘make sense”… “$23,000 and almost 3 years into an Indian adoption, we got news that India had instated a Family Limit Law that we exceeded by far!  We had no recourse and no additional avenue to take.  We were even financially tanked”… “We once had plenty of things and money.  We once never worried about making a house payment or how much gas was.”

 

The giving of that love — that generous love — isn’t necessarily easy…

 

“There is so much loss and grief associated with adoption. My children grieve that loss at a very primal level”… “She has no medical history, no cute stories of her birth, no memories that we can relay of her earliest months”… “He longs to know his birth mom, and it is a great loss to him, a part of him that he finds as ‘unknown’… “Her very first experience was of loss and rejection”… “Her sadness often comes out as rage”… “People wonder if I am her mother — assume she is with someone else. Throughout her life, I have cringed when this has happened.  She is ours through and through, but there is this constant reminder that she is different.”

 

And somehow this tangible process leaves a mark…  on both the kids and parents…

 

“People tell me all the time how lucky my children are to have me.  I tell them that I am the lucky one”… “Adoption has helped me understand the depth of the love of God”… “My love for her is fierce!”… “I learned that God’s plan was way bigger than the little box I thought my life was going to be in”… “What I know now is that this family of mine fills my soul in ways that I can’t even articulate or understand.  I am blessed.”

 

There is something authentic in that blessing — something that speaks to the depth of the generosity and the vastness of the love.  Something that has more to do with the meaning of Christmas than any Santa, sleigh bell, egg nog, elf or present under the tree.  Those who have chosen to adopt — as seen above in families who adopted from Africa, Asia, the inner city, and more — typical kids, foster kids, kids with cognitive and/or physical disability — infants and teens — they have a powerful message, especially this time of year…

 

“We have embraced the sweetness of every color, every hair type, every body shape, every language, accent, and claimed it as our family.  We’ve learned to pick and choose our battles.  We know the Lord will only give us what we can handle. We are truly blessed.  This is family!!!  This is our family!  It has grown us immensely.  These kids have humbled us, sobered us, and taught us more about our faith than we ever could have realized.”

 

Yes, the blessing is real.  The mark is deep.  Generous love leaves a mark.

 

Respectfully… and today, also, humbly blown away…

AR

ugg(h)s

(In our constant observation of wisdom — or lack of it…)  And then there was this…

 

“After the election of Jimmy Carter, the honorable Coleman Alexander Young, he went to Washington D.C. and came back with some bacon.  That’s what you do.  That’s what you do!  This is, uh — our people in an overwhelming way supported the reelection of this President, and there ought to be a quid pro quo, and you ought to exercise leadership on that.  Of course not just that, but why not?!”

 

Detroit City Councilwoman, JoAnn Watson, at an official council meeting this week claimed Detroit deserves a federal bailout — that would be the “bacon” — because they supported Pres. Obama.  They should thus get something in return.

 

(Note that “bacon” would actually, officially qualify as government “pork.”)

 

Watson’s perspective is not unpopular, friends.  She is merely one of the few who has stated her sense of entitlement out loud.

 

Truthfully, who can blame her?  I mean, we live in an entitlement society.  It’s not just the city, state, and federal levels of government.  It’s not just debt-plagued cities and states like Detroit and California who potentially believe they are owed particular benefits.

 

It’s a little more personal.

 

It’s in our homes and communities.

 

Now one of the great privileges of this blog is the opportunity to interact with several of you on a personal level.  I appreciate your insight and input, and I value dialoguing and learning from you, as you, too, observe the wisdom in the world around you.  Many of you are parents — and as I perceive, solid ones at that.  Several more of you may not be parents, but you are actively engaged in the lives of our youth.  You love these kids generously and sacrificially.  You are hands-on.  You are investing physically, emotionally, and spiritually in these children.  What investment will last longer?

 

But all parents and persons involved in the lives of our youth are challenged with a motive that may actually be initially good and true and right, but yet, the manifestation of the motive often plays itself out impurely.

 

We want our kids to have it better than we did.  We don’t want them to struggle.  In fact, we often want them to learn life’s greatest lessons via the least amount of pain.  We make sure they are well fed, well dressed, have the latest greatest stuff, and that they rarely have to go without.  The inherent challenge in that motive is that sometimes life’s greatest lessons are only taught via the pain… via the actual going without.

 

And thus, while our motive is initially pure, as it becomes distorted, we often find ourselves with kids who feel they deserve…

 

… the latest and greatest…

 

…Uggs, video game, apparel, anything by “One Direction,” iPod/Pad/Ped, etc., etc.  In other words, far more than “bacon.”

 

Perhaps our youth don’t demand it; perhaps they aren’t as loud or elementary as the dear Watsons of the world.  But still, we often buy it.  We want our kids to have what they want.  Yes, the line between “wants” and “needs” becomes very blurry when entitlements continue to increase.

 

Councilwoman Watson simply articulated what she wants; her passion would suggest the bailout is instead a “need.”  In our country’s growing — albeit often unaffordable — sense of entitlement, that should be of little surprise.

 

Sorry… I must run.  My son wants a pizza.

 

I said I’d get it for him.

 

Respectfully,

AR

blaming the gun

At halftime of Sunday night’s Eagles vs. Cowboys football game, NBC host, Bob Costas, added a creative sort of commentary.  In reference to the weekend murder-suicide initiated by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, Jovan Belcher — and quoting significantly from Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock’s editorial column — Costas shared the following on national television:

 

Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.

 

In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries.  Who knows?  Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend.  What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

 

In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed.  Who knows?  But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe.  If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

 

As typical of our seemingly oft hypersensitive society, cyberspace and Twitter’s tweets were active with both outrage and support…

 

Is it appropriate for a sports host to offer a politically-charged monologue?

 

Is it appropriate for Costas to speak of something other than sports?

 

And is it appropriate for the host to opine against what is actually a civil right?

 

Would other civil rights opposition be treated similarly on TV?

 

Truth is, while the Intramuralist wonders about Costas’ conviction, I don’t claim to know the answers to all of the above.  Costas consistently shares an opinion in his weekly segment; rarely, however, does the opinion have any political connotation.

 

Is there some truth in what Costas opined?  Possibly.

 

Is there also some truth ignored?  I would agree with that as well.

 

The gun control debate in this country is challenging.  The right to keep and bear arms is firmly implanted in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights; it is the law of the land and a civil right.

 

As with all “rights,” they are often used and abused.  Sometimes it seems the most grievous abuse — regardless of frequency — garners the greatest attention.  Jovan Belcher sadly, grievously misused his right.

 

The ignored truth, in my opinion, begins first with the impossibility for any to aver definitively — not even a respected long time NBC sports host — that Belcher and his girlfriend would actually be alive today if Belcher had not access to a gun.  Too often our society blames a thing or a circumstance as opposed to recognizing the foolishness of one man’s actions — as opposed to holding the responsible person responsible.  In other words, it was not the gun that triggered the murder-suicide; it was Jovan Belcher.

 

I wonder if the reason we so quickly and easily jump to blame the gun (or the thing or relative circumstance) is because it’s easier to control.  Maybe if we attempt to impose gun control, we won’t have to deal with the foolish ways some utilize guns; maybe if we attempt to limit free speech, we won’t have to wrestle with the foolish things some say.  If we focus on control of things and/or circumstances, perhaps then we never have to focus on the actual foolishness of some people.

 

And my sense is that the foolishness of some people is what’s most challenging to control.

 

Respectfully,

AR

life isn’t fair

Some of life’s greatest truths are told via the most clever settings.  (Maybe we listen better that way.)  From the witty 1973 novel that evolved into the movie, The Princess Bride, by William Goldman…

 

It’s one of my biggest memories of my father reading. I had pneumonia, remember, but I was a little better now, and madly caught up in the book, and one thing you know when you’re ten is that, no matter what, there’s gonna be a happy ending. They can sweat all they want to scare you, the authors, but back of it all you know, you just have no doubt, that in the long run justice is going to win out. And Westley and Buttercup – well, they had their troubles, sure, but they were going to get married and live happily ever after, I would have bet the family fortune if I’d found a sucker big enough to take me on.

 

Well, when my father got through with that sentence where the wedding was sandwiched between the ministers’ meeting and the treasury whatever, I said, “You read that wrong.”

 

My father’s this little old barber – remember that too? And kind of illiterate. Well, you just don’t challenge a guy who has trouble reading and say he’s read something incorrectly, because that’s really threatening. “I’m doing the reading,” he said.

 

“I know that, but you got it wrong. She doesn’t marry that rotten Humperdinck. She marries Westley.”

 

“It says right here,” my father began, a little huffy, and he starts going over it again.

 

“You must have skipped a page then. Something. Get it right, huh?”

 

By now he was more than a tiny bit upset. “I skipped nothing. I read the words. The words are there, I read them, good night,” and off he went…

 

All this was never explained to me till I was in my teens and there was this great woman who lived in my home town, Edith Neisser, dead now, and she wrote terrific books about how we screw up our children…  And I remember once we were having iced tea on the Neisser porch and talking and just outside the porch was their badminton court and I was watching some kids play badminton and Ed had just shellacked me, and as I left the court for the porch, he said, “Don’t worry, it’ll all work out, you’ll get me next time” and I nodded, and then Ed said, “And if you don’t, you’ll beat me at something else.”

 

I went to the porch and sipped iced tea and Edith was reading this book and she didn’t put it down when she said, “That’s not necessarily true, you know.”

 

I said, “How do you mean?”

 

And that’s when she put her book down. And looked at me. And said it: “Life isn’t fair, Bill. We tell our children that it is, but it’s a terrible thing to do. It’s not only a lie, it’s a cruel lie. Life is not fair, and it never has been, and it’s never going to be…”

 

“It isn’t!” I said, so loud I really startled her. “You’re right! It’s not fair.” I was so happy if I’d known how to dance, I’d have started dancing. “Isn’t that great, isn’t it terrific?” I think along here Edith must have thought I was well on my way to being bonkers.

 

But it meant so much to me to have it said and out and free and flying – that was the discontent I had endured the night my father stopped reading, I realized right then. That was the reconciliation I was trying to make and couldn’t.

 

And that’s what I think this book’s about. All those Columbia experts can spiel all they want about the delicious satire; they’re crazy. This book says, “life’s not fair” and I’m telling you, one and all, you better believe it… we’re not created equal…

 

Look. (Grownups skip this paragraph.) I’m not about to tell you this book has a tragic ending. I already said in the very first line how it was my favorite in all the world. But there’s a lot of bad stuff coming up, torture you’ve already been prepared for, but there’s worse. There’s death coming up, and you better understand this: Some of the wrong people die. Be ready for it. This isn’t Curious George Uses the Potty. Nobody warned me and it was my own fault (you’ll see what I mean in a little) and that was my mistake, so I’m not letting it happen to you. The wrong people die, some of them, and the reason is this; life is not fair. Forget all the garbage your parents put out… You’ll be a lot happier.

 

And yet we live in a society which continues to embrace fairness as a philosophy, arguably believing that such is good and just and will make people happier.  Fascinating. The challenge is that each of us have different gifts, different strengths, and even different weaknesses because we are not the same; we have not been created all the same.  And yet, there seem fewer adults willing to say it.

 

Respectfully,

AR