you can do anything around here with 5 votes

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #5 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect…]

 

Every year on January 22, throngs of people march up Washington’s Constitution Ave., past the United States Capitol, and improperly demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court Building, yelling and screaming either their opposition or support for abortion rights and the Roe v. Wade decision that established them. This exemplifies everything that is horrifically wrong with the American judicial system.

SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United States, does not make laws. Congress makes laws. But these demonstrators stride right past Congress on their way to the Court Building. If they were doing their job properly, the Supreme Court justices would not pay any attention to what these people yell and scream. But they do.

Just look at the media. With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, CNN, CNBC, The Huffington Post, Politico, and The Hill are each reporting that “64% of Americans support the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion” and  “they would not like to see it overturned.” NBC now claims it is 71%.

This is completely irrelevant. It is not the Court’s job to pass laws that people want. That is Congress’ job, which is why our Congressmen and women are elected by the people. It is the Court’s job to determine if those laws are Constitutional, or to interpret them if they come under dispute.

This is basic civics. According to Article I of the Constitution, “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” Article III says, “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and…shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution.” Lastly, in the Tenth Amendment, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Though controversial, let us use the abortion issue as an objective example. Reasonable people can have different opinions about abortion, and it is not my intent here to argue for or against it. But there clearly is no right to an abortion in the Constitution. Harry Blackmun based his Roe opinion on the “right to privacy” in the Fourteen Amendment. Read the Fourteenth Amendment. The word “privacy” is not there. These are the words upon which the Court based their decision: “No state shall… deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” At face value, those words would seem to support life more than choice.

Furthermore, Blackmun made up an admittedly arbitrary trimester framework where in the first three months, the decision lies completely between a mother and her doctor, the second three months laws can be passed only related to the mother’s health, and in the last three months, the state’s interest to protect the unborn becomes more compelling. While that may be the most brilliant compromise ever decreed since Solomon suggested cutting a baby in half, where in the world does the Constitution say anything about trimesters?

To have a staunch position on Roe, you have to read it. It is an opinion so devoid of solid foundation that it took Justice Blackmun 51 pages to explain it. There is not a single sentence in it that qualifies as a legal argument. He simply wrote his personal opinion about why he thought this would be the best way forward, then tried to justify it.

He may have been right. But that was not his job. Supreme Court justices are not wise old sages to be consulted for their wisdom on difficult issues. They are to determine whether laws passed by the legislative branch are Constitutional. Their personal opinions are irrelevant, even worse for them to be imposed upon us.

Justices quote other cases, which is appropriate, considering the importance of legal precedent. But sometimes they quote other writings of legislators who passed laws to help define what the laws mean. The problem with this is that the legislative process involves a countless number of compromises, and regardless if one side wrote about their personal opinion in some other context, only the words in the legislation that were agreed upon when the law was passed should be law. The infamous “separation of church and state” principle, for example, came from a personal letter of Thomas Jefferson’s. Thomas Jefferson’s personal letters should have no more force of law than Donald Trump’s tweets.

When justices are not bound by the words of The Constitution in their authority, they can do whatever they want. Sitting Justice Stephen Breyer is on record saying that the “Court cannot do its job without a careful understanding of foreign law and practice.” What do other countries’ laws have to do with the American Constitution? Do any of us want to be ruled by other countries’ laws? The late Justice William Brennan was even more transparent when he candidly remarked, “You can do anything around here with five votes.” That was a man who believed there were absolutely no limits to his authority.

Therein lies the problem. When SCOTUS issued its opinion on Roe, there were 32 states that banned abortion, 14 that restricted it, and 4 that had repealed bans that were previously in place. That’s how the democratic process works. Elected officials, accountable to the electorate, pass laws and sometimes repeal them. And the Tenth Amendment clearly says that all powers not given to the United States by the Constitution are reserved to the states. So when five or more justices think they know better based on any reasoning whatsoever except for what the Constitution says, that is not democracy. They are overruling the democratic process, throwing out democratically passed laws. That is dictatorship, or in this case, oligarchy, “a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons.”

As one legal scholar put it, “We are increasingly governed not by law or elected representatives but by an unelected, unrepresentative, unaccountable committee of lawyers applying no will but their own.”

Back to Justice Kennedy’s retirement. There are factions of society that would have you believe that this is the end of the world as we know it. Why? Because there is a long list of initiatives that in spite of not surviving the democratic process have been imposed by doing an end run around the legislative branch and getting five justices to dictate them upon us.

You may be happy with the results of the Court’s edicts thus far, but what if you were not? When Congress passes laws we do not like, we can vote them out. When SCOTUS dictates their personal opinions upon us, we have no recourse.

If Roe were overturned, that would not outlaw abortion in America. What it would do is properly return that decision back to the states. The issue could be debated, and rightly so. And officials who are elected by their people to represent them could make whatever decisions they want.

That is democracy. And that is what America is supposed to be.

Respectfully…

MPM

the hottest of messes

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #4 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect…]

 

Police cars sound in the distance. A look of sheer panic flashes in her eyes as she begs her teacher to know if it is yet another bomb threat.

An over-the–road truck driver’s family learns of his whereabouts when he does not return home at the end of dropping his load. No one would have guessed he would never make it home alive.

“If I could ask my son one question, I would ask him how it felt, after he pulled that trigger, to fall into the arms of Jesus,” sobbed a grieving Pat, the father of a colleague who committed suicide at the end of school last year.

One common thread binds these three stories together. One consistent — dare I say, “friend” — proves to be there. 

Tragedy…

Tragedy… those events, which cause each of us great suffering, destruction, and distress.

Tragedy comes in many shapes and sizes. You know those moments… those that nearly do us in, leaving us breathless. 

The truth is stingingly real. Not a one of us is immune to tragedy. Each of us is impacted by the tragedies that touch our lives. Whether we want to admit it or not, there is a something that changes within us. Whether it is our thought process or our coping skills, I am not sure.

Or maybe it is our hearts. No one can answer that question for us. We must each take the time to look at who we are from the inside out.  

Another profound aspect of tragedy is that it plays no favorites. It does not concern itself with demographics or statistics. It comes when it comes…

Maybe it is a mass shooting such as Sandy Hook or Columbine. It could be a bomb threat at a school in rural southern Indiana “where things like that just don’t happen.” It could be the events that push a college friend to see no other way out but to take his own life. Or, even more surreal, perhaps it is that over-the-road truck driver who is your brother that was out of your life more than he was in and is now gone far too soon.  

Hear my heart. Regardless of what your tragedy may look like, it is okay to own it and be real with exactly where you are. If a struggle is there: say so and then let’s figure out how to rise up. We are all in this boat together friends! We are all a HOT MESS!!  

At the very least, we all have the great potential of becoming a hot mess. 

Just think how much sweeter this world of ours would be if we could only recognize that place in each other. We have to start within ourselves. We have to allow ourselves to walk in the freedom of knowing that we are all on level ground; we are not so different from one another.

Tragedies and joys alike are going to come. We will each face these moments in our lives. And we can all rise above. 

So this is my challenge to each of us… 

Can we strive to walk this road together? Can we walk beside each other, leaving room only for love, grace, and respect — and the freedom to do so regardless of what that looks like for each of us? … knowing it will look differently for each of us?

With you in the fray… respectfully…

The Hottest of Messes

living simply

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #3 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect…]

 

“Live simply so that others may simply live.”

This is a difficult statement because it requires us to define the word, “simply.”  

It does ask us to decide the difference between two very different words: NEED as in “must have… survival, you know” — and WANT as in “sure-would-be-nice-to-have and-fun, too”!  Of course, the internal argument that goes on in determining an answer is easier if we can quickly convert the “wanted” to the “needed.”  But that truly isn’t a solution, is it?  So why is it such a challenge?  

Well, one word suggests we may need to give up something or maybe make a change in lifestyle or abandon the “I-deserve-it” mentality. And does less make any sense (almost un-American?) or is having more really being self-indulgent? Tough questions if we really want to be honest with ourselves. Now some of you may have stopped reading now because no one likes thoughts and ideas that make us uncomfortable. But I will share a small personal example. 

This want-need struggle of mine first became apparent when I moved into a different house, one which I did not own. Along with all the possessions moved into the house were just the loveliest set of bath towels that were ideal in the former house… but now they were completely incompatible with the decor of the new bathroom, a total aesthetic nightmare in my eyes at least. Now I know any reader will have an immediate solution: “Paint!” Remember I said it was not my house, and it was inappropriate for me to get the permission of the owner. And then there were the realistic positions which I confronted literally and figuratively: The budget is tight.  We can’t afford this. Just get over it. And finally, the last straw, will the towels still do what a towel is supposed to do?  

Now this may be a trite example, but for many of us this “want-need” struggle still affects our lives, especially if we are trying to follow the Biblical truths that address the acquisition of “getting” and the teachings on “giving.”  But what if those truths mean we would really have more, not less?  

More of what, you ask?  

Here are only a few answers:

MORE room in our closets (… shall we have a shoe counting contest?)                                                         

MORE resources to help those who really do have needs… food, clothing, shelter…

MORE time to serve others, not just stuff that keeps us busy or on the go.

MORE rest not invaded by worry of bills, keeping up with the Joneses, etc.

MORE sharing of words that express appreciation, compassion, kindness.

So, make your own list of MORE’S…

And by the way, that opening statement — “Live simply so that others may simply live” — was written by Henry David Thoreau… I think Jesus would agree with him.

Respectfully…

DL

who will make a difference?

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #2 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect…]

 

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States…

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, in 2016: Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.There were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362).”*

The first time I heard of Thirteen Reasons Why I was looking at a long list of titles to be read in a very short time on a syllabus for a graduate class in adolescent literature. I knew nothing about it. Fast forward some years later and I heard Netflix was turning it into a series. I wondered how they were going to turn a single adolescent novel into a series with adult appeal. Being an avid reader, I am familiar with the concept of censorship and controversial subjects. Being an educator, I am aware of being sensitive to subjects that might be better addressed at home than in a school setting. The subjects tackled in the novel are hard and frankly not something I was sure I wanted to watch. Somehow reading the words on a page wasn’t as difficult as the thought of viewing the story acted out. Being an adolescent isn’t easy, and being the parent of adolescents isn’t any easier. For those of us who have been touched by teen depression in ourselves or someone we love, the thought of watching a story about a teen who chose to end her life hits a little too close to home. 

Thirteen Reasons Why is a novel by Jay Asher. It tells the tragic story of a young teenage girl named Hannah who committed suicide and left behind a series of audio tapes explaining her reasoning behind her decision to take her own life. The tapes are delivered in order to thirteen people with whom Hannah had a relationship. Hannah tells each individual how he or she impacted her life and her decision. In the TV series, each character is shown trying to come to terms with how Hannah’s secrets could impact them and deciding whether or not Hannah’s accusations were true. 

The story raises many more questions than it answers. The producers of the show decided to tackle many teen issues in this series. Due to its popularity, there was a second season in which the story is extended and the characters continue to deal with the loss of Hannah and testifying in the trial in which Hannah’s parents try to make the case that the school should be held responsible for allowing a culture of bullying and sexual harassment to exist and for neglecting to see that Hannah was assaulted by the star athlete.

Controversy has surrounded both the book and the show. It has caused much discussion and debate around the topics brought up and how the producers decided to tell the story. Some mental health professionals were concerned that the story glossed over the need for mental health intervention. The kids interact with each other but avoid seeking adult guidance. There was concern that the show glorified suicide and used graphic seasons to gain ratings.

It took me a long while to get up enough nerve to watch the first season. I was hooked. The actors and actresses are compelling and took me right back to what it was like being awkward socially and trying to navigate the minefield of popularity and social pecking order. I remember how intense every interaction was and how it felt like every decision seemed to hold your future in the balance. I remember being the bystander when one of the social outcasts was verbally and physically assaulted in the hallway by a popular football player for the crime of being different. I remember being torn between not knowing what to do to stop it and at the same time fearing the ramifications of standing up to one of the popular people. I remember the girls who gave in to what the boys wanted in an effort to be liked and popular. I remember getting laughs by making fun of someone to the point they got someone to threaten to fight me to shut me up. Most of all I remember how alone I felt when it came to a support system for decision-making in the teen world. Some things are just too hard to talk to your parent about, and turning to fellow adolescents for advice doesn’t produce the best wisdom.

At the end of each season there is a follow up episode in which the producers, actors, and consultants are interviewed. The producers get a chance to explain why they chose to tell the story in a particular way. The audience asks questions about various aspects of the show. I wonder how many people skip those episodes? I really get the feeling that the producers of this show do a lot of research and take their job very seriously. Some may question their motives. I believe their intentions are sincere. Do they get everything right?  No. Do they make us start talking about topics that need to be addressed? I think so. Do teens have all the answers? Of course not. Do they make bad decisions? Of course they do. Do we need to do a better job of checking in with each other? I think so. 

The bottom line is we all play a role in each other’s lives. We have to ask ourselves how we can be a part of the solution. In America, suicide is one of the top ten causes of death. Among people aged 10-34 it is the second leading cause of death. How can we change this alarming trend? Can we check in on each other more often? Can we check on the strong, silent types who may be struggling quietly and go unnoticed because they aren’t drawing attention to themselves? Can we look beneath the behavior of the class comedian to recognize when humor is used as a mask for pain? Can we be slower to anger and judge, offering grace more freely? Can we do a better job of including the odd kid and checking on the lonely? Can we change the way we view mental illness so we remove the stigma surrounding it and make access to mental health as quick and affordable as medical care? Can we be brave enough to stand up to those who bully and offer support to the bullied? Can we listen without judging? Can we notice what is right with a person rather than constantly being critical? Can we do our part to make the world a little more loving and a little less scary for the souls we encounter daily? If we don’t make changing this statistic a priority who will?

Respectfully…

AST

[*https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml]

state of civility

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #1 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect. Enjoy!!]

 

A Respectful Dialogue of Current Events… a guiding principle of the Intramuralist is to express one’s opinion while respecting those who hold an alternative perspective. Such is the essence of civil discourse. If the mission of this website is to lead by example so that others will debate the issues of the day in a civil manner, is anybody following that example?

Not so much, I’m afraid. Take a look at these events over just the last 12 months since the last Guest Writer Series:

  • An employee was fired from his job for a memo he wrote challenging the effectiveness of his company’s diversity programs.
  • A white separatists rally in Charlottesville, VA turned deadly when a man intentionally drove his car into a crowd of protesters.
  • Football fields turned into political battlegrounds pitting players against fans over protests during the National Anthem.
  • A tenured law school professor was removed from teaching mandatory first-year courses after challenging racial preferences in college admissions.
  • A left-leaning magazine hired a writer away from a right-leaning magazine and then fired him after one column due to backlash from its readership.
  • Protesters hounded a cabinet member at a private dinner and another restaurant refused to serve the White House press secretary.
  • A congresswoman advocated for further harassment of administration officials.
  • The congresswoman herself was harassed in response.
  • A comedienne used vulgar profanity on her TV show to insult the president’s daughter. (She apologized, but only to women.)
  • An opinion website was hounded into deleting a column defending an actress cast to play a transgender role, leading to the columnist’s resignation.
  • Trump supporters organized a boycott of a retailer for selling “Impeach 45” clothing on its website even though it was placed online by a third party.

I could go on. It seems we can’t even get to “live and let live.” Not only do we feel the need to tell those with the opposing viewpoint how wrong they are, many of us want to hurt (either physically or financially) those on the other side. They need to pay a price for disagreeing with us. It should go without saying that is not a healthy attitude to have.

So what to do about it? A few humble suggestions:

  1. Recognize that we are all part of the problem – Your incivility may not be as bad as others’, but are you as civil as you could be? If not, you are escalating the rhetoric which can lead to harmful outcomes.
  2. Acknowledge that everyone has biases (even you) – We are all inclined to focus on (or ignore) certain data points based on our perspective. As such, we don’t always see the world as it really is.
  3. Admit that you are not always right – Even if you think you are right 99% of the time, maybe this time is part of the 1%. Allow for that possibility, and it will be easier to retract your words if you have to.
  4. Disconnect from social media – Personally, I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts a couple years ago. I find myself to be a much happier person. Even if you don’t want to totally disengage from those platforms, try going without it for a few days and experience how little you miss it.
  5. Don’t type anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face – Why is it that we are much crueler when we type things than when we’re speaking in person? Imagine that the person you’re communicating with is in the room with you when you type.
  6. Read some opinion you disagree with – Find some civil writers from the opposite side of the political spectrum and try to understand the issues of the day from their point of view. It may not change your mind, but it should change the way you interact with those you disagree with.
  7. Be honest with your self-assessment – There are some people who get an emotional high from arguing. There can be an addiction to adrenaline that comes from debating controversial issues just like any drug. If you think that might be you, seek professional help to preserve your personal relationships.
  8. Consider that Trump is a symptom, not the problem – I know, I know… some of you really, really hate Donald Trump. I’m not a big fan myself, but here’s the thing. He could not have risen to power were it not for the toxic political environment that existed before he was elected. He knows how to take advantage of uncivil discourse, but it did not start with him, and it will not go away after his presidency unless we do something about it.

Bottom line… before you speak, THINK! Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?

Respectfully…

PJM

the voices of others

When the Intramuralist began nearly 10 years ago, there were some baseline principles we vowed to embrace, such as:

All people are created equal.

Everyone’s voice is valid.

Everyone deserves respect.

Disagreement does not equate to disrespect.

How we handle disagreement matters.

Listening is a virtue.

We are each endowed by our Creator.

None of us have life all figured out (… especially since we are each endowed by someone other than self…).

Focusing on what is good and right and true is best.

Dialogue leads to both solution and growth.

Insults, ridicule, and judgment kill both solution and growth.

I’m certain there are more than the above top ten, but these are principles to which we have consistently attempted to adhere.

Have we always done so? 

Great question. Probably not.

There have been times I did not listen well. There have been times I played the judge and pointed fingers more than shared well-thought-out perspective. There have been times I, too, unfortunately, have chosen to rant and rave and perhaps even ridicule. There have been times I have thus been hypocritical. 

Such is not my desire. But I — just like you — am very imperfect.

This side of heaven — even though endowed by that Creator with certain unalienable rights — I will sometimes fail, screw up, and royally fall flat on my face. Such is the nature of being human; is it not? 

But I will not quit striving — striving for what I deeply believe to be good and right and true.

That said, one of the principles embedded in the above, is that you need not always hear from me. Other voices are valid. Other voices are pertinent. We do not all agree on all things, but that doesn’t matter. We must listen to — and learn from — one another. We are sharpened by the one who thinks differently than we. That, my friends, is part of the beauty of diversity… a beauty that too often contemporary culture fails to acknowledge.

Beginning Sunday, therefore — and continuing for the next 3-4 weeks — you will hear from some trusted, articulate friends of mine. Yes… it’s time for our 10th annual Intramuralist Guest Writers Series!an opportunity to hear from multiple individuals from multiple perspectives… men and women hailing from varied ethnicities and demographics. Please know: the opinions shared may or may not be held equally by me… but that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that we listen well to one another.

We can learn much if we actually listen to another; hence, this thought-provoking series will feature multiple guest writers sharing unique perspective regarding what’s going on in our world. You will hear about the Supreme Court, civility, some alarming suicide statistics, and far more. Feel free to agree, disagree, engage, and ask questions of them. Simply, as always, be respectful in your response.

Respectful…

Indeed… may our respect for one another — imperfect as we each are — always be intentional and clear. It is both a privilege and joy to be on this journey with you.

Blessings, friends…

AR

20 questions

Ok, ok… just rambling today, but questions I have that no one has answered yet to any degree of satisfaction… most of which have been shared or first offered by others…

What happened to Amelia Earhart?

How moral was John F. Kennedy?

Who was truly responsible for killing him?

Why is it that we often romanticize celebrities after their death?

Why do psychics have to ask you your name?

What don’t we know about 9/11?

Why do many refer to porn actors/actresses as “adult film stars”?

Why can’t we listen better?

Are all individuals valued under socialism?

What exactly is a “Buckeye”?

Has Facebook jumped the shark?

What about “Grey’s Anatomy”?

Why did they ever let Derek die?

Why do professional athletes get paid more than teachers?

Why do some feel that faith and science are contradicting?

Why do we resist God, especially if he knows what’s best?

If money doesn’t grow on trees, why do banks have branches?

Why do we feel like one political party is so much more moral than the other?

Can a funeral home raise the cost of burial and then blame the increase on the cost of living?

Where are each of us judgmental, but (most likely) don’t know it?

Great questions. I do love the question.

Remember that the question mark is the only punctuation piece that begs a response… that actually invites a reply.

I’m thus inclined to believe that if we were intentional about inviting a reply, our conversations and dialogue would be vastly improved…

We would listen better… hear better… and work more efficiently toward solution…

… even if discussing the actual whereabouts of Amelia Earhart.

Where is she by the way?

Respectfully…

AR

suspicion or trust?

What do you lead with?

If there’s space between you and me, what do you lead with?

I’ve thought of this many times… if there’s space between you and me, something has to fill it…

If there’s space between a father and a son…

… between a husband and wife…

… between a girlfriend and boyfriend…

… between an employer and employee…

… between friends…

… between coworkers…

… between Facebook “friends” or Instagram “followers”…

What fits in the so-called in between?

What do you lead with?

One of my favorite sayings in the healthy community we have become a part of since our recent move, is that: “we will fill the gap with trust.”

That means when there is space between us…

… when I don’t understand…

… when I don’t know what’s going on… 

… when my perspective is limited…

… when their perspective is limited…

when we disagree

When any of those things are between us, I choose not to fight… to offend nor be offended…

I choose not to judge, point fingers, or criticize… even when that’s easiest to do.

Let’s note that it is suspicion that leads to judgment and criticism. So do I fill the gap with suspicion… or with trust? It’s either one or the other.

Say the wise words of Atlanta’s Andy Stanley:

“We have a tendency to put suspicion in the gap. Patrick Lencioni, in the book ‘The Advantage,’ talks about the fundamental attribution error. ‘It is the tendency to attribute the negative or frustrating behaviors of colleagues to their intentions and personalities.’ So if someone does something to create a gap, this error leads us to believe that it is something that is fundamentally wrong with their personality or character. (He was late because he is lazy.) On the other hand, when we do something to create a gap, we attribute it to environmental issues. (I am late because traffic was bad.) You cut yourself slack but not others.

[emphasis mine]

It seems to me we are living in a culture where many are encouraging the placing of suspicion in the gap; many cut slack only for self and the likeminded.

Yet wisdom calls us elsewhere; wisdom calls us to fill the gap with trust.

Granted, as Stanley shares, sooner or later, “Trust runs out. At that point, something has to change. Conversations have to take place sooner rather than later. If you find yourself driving home having imaginary conversations in your head with the other person about these trust gaps, it is time to have a conversation in real life. You need to sit down and tell the person about the existence of the trust gap and understand the cause. Lencioni writes, ‘When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing more than the pursuit of truth in an attempt to find the best possible answer.’”

I thus so desire the conversation.

I so desire finding a better way.

I desire deflating the intensity of the conflict.

And I desire filling the gap with trust.

Respectfully…

AR

unprecedented sportsmanship

Two people.

One object.

Two people can look at one object and see it in totally different ways…

… sometimes in ways that seem contradicting… in ways in which we wonder how another ever possibly could have arrived at his or her perspective…

Enter high school baseball as today’s example…

Last month there was one Minnesota sectional championship game which was especially notable. The game featured Totino-Grace vs. Mounds View — the Eagles vs. the Mustangs.

What made this game remarkable was how it ended.

Mounds View pitcher Ty Koehn faced the final batter in Totino-Grace’s Jack Kocon. Ty struck out Jack to end the game.

With the final out, the Mustangs of Mounds View enthusiastically stormed the field, celebrating their well-earned coveted championship. They all spontaneously gathered near the pitching mound — that is, all except Ty Koehn.

Unlike the rest of his team, Ty instead rushed off the mound toward the batter’s box. He was there to console his opponent, Jack Kocon.

As reported by Minnesota site Bring Me The News, Ty said: 

“We are very close friends. Knew him from all the way back when we were 13. We were on the same Little League team. It was tough when we went to separate schools, but we kept in touch.

I knew the game was going to keep going or it was going to end right there. I knew I had to say something. Our friendship is more important than just the silly outcome of a game. I had to make sure he knew that before we celebrated.”

Look at this teen… so aware of what’s most important… so aware that opposition doesn’t have to be vicious nor divisive. And yet two people… one object… seeing things in totally different ways…

Note the tweeted reaction of others… but especially noted, the reaction of adults…

“This makes me shake with rage the more I see it. As I said elsewhere, this offends me as a youth football coach who preaches killer instinct to my players. I would make a player who did this hold his championship ring as I blowtorch it and melt it, because he doesn’t deserve it.”

“This is absolutely embarrassing. You have 1 moment to celebrate with your teammates who busted their tails w/ you, and you’re going to console a friend who’s upset? Kid is about as soft as it gets. Winners win and embrace it. Take this garbage somewhere else.”

“Call me old and crotchety (it’s probably true), but I personally find this ridiculous. The pitcher should be celebrating with his teammates. He can call or text his friend later and take him out for “milk shakes” at some point this summer.”

Wow… killer instinct… garbage… soft… ridiculous…

After a show of unprecedented sportsmanship, adults attempt to explain why empathetic behavior is wrong.

Have we soured so much in picking our teams, embracing division, and need to win, that we can no longer see what is good and right and true?

… that we can no longer see what we have in common?

… and that empathy and compassion are good?

Maybe we, too, need the younger generation to remind us of what is good.

Respectfully…

AR

the older man

Last week I witnessed the most feisty exchange…

A middle-aged man pulled his pickup truck into the nearest Publix parking spot. There was nothing unusual nor outstanding about the guidance of his vehicle. He was somewhat close to the gold sedan to his left, although the proximity had zero to do with driver error; the car to his right was hugging the line, so-to-speak, and there was simply minimal space with which to maneuver his vehicle. 

The driver of the gold sedan had exited the grocery and was entering his car as the pickup driver came to a halt. He was an older gentleman, and noticing the pickup driver’s closeness, he paused all movement. In fact, he reversed his perceived intention — stopped getting into his car, got totally out, and shut his door. The gold sedan owner awaited confrontation with the pickup driver.

As the pickup driver got out of his car, the older man approached him…

“You know, my wife was almost hit here twice last week.”

The pickup driver — who seemed nothing short of surprised that this stranger would engage — humbly responded, seemingly desiring to honor his elders… 

“Excuse me?”

To which the sedan driver repeated his concern, only more animatedly and adamantly…

“My wife was almost hit here twice last week! Two people almost hit her!”

He was angry… most likely, no doubt, sincerely angry.

I have to applaud the younger man’s reaction. He paused… stayed present… listened to the man’s concern… even affirmed his concern… and before walking away, he wished the older man well.

The older man never calmed down. It also did not rattle the younger.

I’ve thought of this each day since…

The older man was mad — his wife had almost been hurt.

The younger man parked nearby — but he did nothing wrong nor intentionally offensive.

But the younger man was closest…

… closest…

And so the older man reacted by taking his anger out upon the one who was closest.

Obviously, it was not the younger man’s fault that the older man’s wife had been endangered in the week prior. 

Obviously, the older man had reason to be concerned.

But in our concern, how often do we take it out on the person who is closest?

How often do we let our emotions fly not necessarily on the one who is responsible? … but rather on the one who is easiest to rail upon?

And the hardest question today… that I ask with all humble sincerity…

How often is that me?

How often am I the older man?

Respectfully…

AR