the hardest thing to do?

We’ve long heard much in regard to what’s the hardest thing to do…

“I’ve always said that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports,” said the great Ted Williams.

“I think the hardest thing to do in the world, show-business-wise, is write comedy,” said the comedic genius, Carol Burnett.

“Stillness. That’s all and that’s the hardest thing,” said the talented Morgan Freeman.

“The hardest thing with musicians is getting them not to play,” said the iconic pop star, Prince.

And from the often articulate Adlai E. Stevenson, “I am now seasoned enough to have learned that the hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.”

So much truth and perspective in each of the above, individualized arenas. What still seems hardest for us all?

“To change,” said Mickey Rourke.

“To trust people,” said Dwight Howard.

“Being humble and sweet,” said Jemima Kirke.

“Losing weight,” said Aretha Franklin.

“Losing someone you love,” “forgiveness,” and “asking for forgiveness,” still say many.

I wonder, as we watch people continue to forsake respecting all in all arenas, if the hardest thing to do has less to do with any of the above — hard as each admittedly can be — but more to do with a singular body part.

It seems, my friends, we are consistently, inconsistently awful at taming the tongue.

I speak not of vulgarity; after all, truthfully, sometimes there’s just something incredibly funny about the limited-use-yet-perfectly-timed, creative cuss word. 

I speak instead of the words meant to demean, degrade, or disrespect. While a word out of our mouths can accomplish nearly anything, it can also destroy it.

Maybe we say destructive words flippantly. Maybe they are a knee-jerk reaction. Maybe we put them on social media for all the world to see.

Maybe we don’t actually say the words, but we’re totally ok and egging it on if the words come out of the mouth of someone else. Maybe we’re inconsistent in believing disparaging words are ok, pending who actually says them.

Maybe it depends on who the words are said about — from a sitting senator to a press secretary, as we’ve sadly, recently observed.

Maybe, just maybe, each of us, well, we’re entirely inconsistent. We justify degrading someone.

I read once — ok, maybe twice (or truthfully way, way more) — how if we could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, we’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life. No one can tame a tongue. 

Hence, I walk away, still wondering with two thoughts…

One, we only hurt ourselves and our credibility when we’re lured into believing that cursing and blessing can come out of the same mouth…

And two, as adults hailing from all sorts of both individual and collective arenas, each of us has areas in which to grow.

Respectfully…

AR

this is me

Sometimes the most profound moments come from the simplest conversations. I go back to one Friday night, a few years back, when I stopped in to see a friend tending bar at a casual hangout. 

We sat and talked for a few hours… always good… at the end of this day, the end of the week. There was a TV nearby. On it appeared yet another celebrity getting attention for a personal choice — and as oft consistent with our not-so-united society, the attention was prominent, but not necessarily prominently positive. All sorts of people possessing all sorts of perspectives felt welcome chiming in on his choice.

So as one who truly wishes to welcome and consider all perspective — and no doubt, I, too, am a work in progress — I asked my dear, articulate, especially frank friend, Bobby, his thoughts.

Simpler than I imagined, Bobby looked at me, paused from his professional routine, and merely said, not really to me, “You know, I think you need to be the best you — and I need to be the best me.”

He was not speaking to “me,” of course. He was identifying how each of us looks at other people — and why we each feel welcome to generously weigh in with our perspectives, varied as they may be… condoning or condemning, also as they may be.

We look at other people…

And when they are different from us, we justify the condemnation…

Maybe we criticize and condemn because they look differently.

Maybe we criticize and condemn because they act differently.

Or maybe we’re ok with how one looks or acts, but we criticize and condemn because they think differently.

One of my recent (but still all time) favorite movies is “The Greatest Showman,” released last winter starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Ephron, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya (… it’s ok if you didn’t like it; for this former show choir parent, “this is me”…).

Within exists an iconic song, nominated for an Academy Award…

“This Is Me.” It’s great for multiple reasons…

For some, as dubbed by Variety Magazine, it is “an anthem for outcasts.” Led by the Bearded Lady — after being shunned by the show’s visionary (Jackman) — the cast of human “oddities” finds their voice and their pride, marching through the streets, refusing to feel as something lesser.

Described by song co-writer Justin Paul, “She (the Bearded Lady) then finds her own sense of power and pride. It’s the moment where they realize, ‘We are who we are, and we’re going to own our own identity.’”

Note she is owning who she is… comparing herself to no one else… being the “best me,” subject to the judgment of no other.

Says the song:

“… When the sharpest words wanna cut me down

I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out

I am brave, I am bruised

I am who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me.”

Yes, there are areas in which each of us is foolish — each of us needs to grow — all of us. God is no doubt, not finished with us yet. 

But sometimes the growth would be faster if we could grow in absence of judgment from anyone else.

Respectfully…

AR

how do you solve a problem like Korea?

This is a tough one. North Korea is a hostile, socialist, arguably Stalinist country, known for their numerous violations of human rights. They boast of a military nuclear weapons program and have a significant quantity of chemical and biological weapons. They are no longer a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, a pact made to prevent the spread of such weapons and its technology. Those weapons and technology are dangerous in the hands of a hostile nation.

So what do we do? How do you solve a problem like (North) Korea?

For decades, presidents have attempted to find an effective strategy with this growing threat — and for decades, there has seemed minimal, significant, positive movement. In fact, with each considered an incredibly provocative threat, North Korea has now conducted six nuclear tests — in 2006, 2009, 2013 (2x), 2016, and 2017 — under presidents Bush 43, Obama, and Trump. They and the presidents before them have been united in their sobering concern.

Shockingly… fascinatingly… eerily — whatever the right word is — there now exists at least the possibility of progress. After years of trying to find the right approach — from Pres. Clinton saying he would prevent the country from developing a nuclear arsenal “even at the risk of war” to Bush 43’s positioning on the infamous “Axis of Evil” to Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” — only now has there seemed at least the possibility of progress. This comes amid Pres. Trump’s approach of “maximum pressure,” a policy bookended by a series of both questionable and sometimes, in my opinion, even queasy quotes. 

Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, and Trump have each exchanged their share of insults. Now, however, Kim and Trump are set to sit down together soon — this month or next. This will be the first time a sitting U.S. President will have met the leader of North Korea since the Korean War. This is significant.

There exists a deep, deep challenge here, friends. Yes, this is significant, and yes, there exists only the possibility of progress. And in all candor, the war of words between Kim and Trump has seemingly, only caused concern by the watching world to increase. With no recent president able to permanently diffuse the growing threat, it is difficult for arguably most to imagine that Pres. Trump, with his tweets and unconventional approach, will be effective. Even more so, the question exists in the minds of many: will Trump do more damage than good? What if he makes the situation worse?

Once again, I find myself observing from a limited vantage point. Also, I find it incredibly difficult to find an unbiased perspective. As noted recently, when news was breaking that Kim and Trump would meet, when tuning into CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC, each had a completely different approach. Each was laced with bias.

I found some words this week that resonated with me, as I crave positive change but unsure if such can be delivered via the current — or any — administration. From Jeff Greenfield of Politico:  

“… In the wake of the head-snapping developments on the Korean Peninsula—North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in shaking hands across the 38th parallel, talk of a formal end to the war 68 years after the armistice, a meeting between Kim and Trump—voices far removed from the circle of Trump admirers, such as former acting CIA Director Michael Morrell, and diplomatic correspondents for the New York Times and the Washington Post, have offered the president measured praise. One of the president’s toughest critics, Rep. Adam Schiff, offered this backhanded compliment: ‘I think it’s more than fair to say that the combination of the president’s unpredictability and, indeed, his bellicosity had something to do with the North Koreans deciding to come to the table.’

Yes, it’s probably too early to sound the trumpets; yes, there is a history of North Korea playing Lucy with the football while the U.S., as Charlie Brown, whiffs badly. Yes, some will argue that Trump has already given Kim what he and his forebears have always wanted—the respect due a nuclear power—without North Korea having to put anything tangible on the table. But when you measure where we are now from where we were just several months ago—Trump threatening ‘fire and fury’ last August, belittling Kim as ‘Little Rocket Man’ in September as North Korea fired missiles into the Pacific, fears of war at a near-fever pitch—we are clearly in a better place. And it is at least plausible that the president’s words and deeds mattered…

It’s not hard to see why the President’s most zealous critics see him as they do…

But that feeling is all the more reason to retain a sense of perspective; to be able to consider seriously the proposition that this misbegotten president has somehow achieved an honest-to-God diplomatic success. After all, it won’t be long before he provides a whole new set of reasons to mourn the fact of his ascendance. If the possibility of a peaceful Korea becomes reality, let’s just let him have this one triumph.”

Wanting to hope… wanting North Korea to no longer be hostile… to no longer be capable of nuclear armament… regardless of who is President.

Respectfully…

AR

problem with the press

The role of the press…

The power of the press…

The freedom of the press…

And thus, the problem with the press.

Let’s be concise — respectful, as always, too…

The role of the press in a democratic society is to provide information to ordinary citizens.

The freedom of the press — declared in the First Amendment — is the free exercise and right not to be censored. This “Fourth Estate” (or “fourth power”) as some have historically referred to the press, denotes an additional set of checks and balances that an uncensored press provides for government.

The power of the press, as admirably articulated by Donald A. Ritchie in his 1987 critique of The Power of the Press: The Birth of American Political Reporting by Thomas C. Leonard, is “that time-worn cliché” that “often eludes definition.” Ritchie  referred to correspondents who “routinely crowed about their power to make and unmake the reputations of public men, while at the same time many of them bowed and scraped for patronage and wrote predictably partisan dispatches.” The power of the press is the ability to “make” or “unmake” any man or woman of their choosing.

Hence, then the problem with the press

The “press” evolved from the printing press, simply referring to what is published or put into print.

Journalism is something better and more. Emerson College, one of the nation’s top schools for journalism, promotes their degree as follows, “Although technology has revolutionized the ways in which we share and consume the news, the principles and values that govern journalism remain the same. At Emerson’s Department of Journalism, you’ll learn how to tell stories that increase public understanding and awareness.” 

So we increase understanding by the sharing and consumption of news.

Consistent with its etymological definition, “news” means new information; information means provided facts. That means that news is absent of partiality and bias. So when bias is added to news, news becomes opinion. Opinion and news are not the same thing. The opinions of the editorial page have migrated to the front page, disguised as news.

So question: where do you get your “news”?

Second question: are you instead listening to opinion?  

CNN, FOX, MSNBC… The Drudge Report, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Washington Examiner… each (and more) is full of opinion. Opinion, as stated, is not news.

Allow me one, brief example — on a subject the Intramuralist intends to soon address. When the news broke in March that North Korea is now willing to talk to the U.S. about giving up nuclear weapons, I quickly surveyed the immediate “breaking news” on the three television stations mentioned above. One was glowing; one was glaring; and one was skeptical. Tell me the news, please. We don’t need the glow, glare, nor skepticism — none of which qualify as news. 

The problem with the press is that multiple media offerings insert their bias and still act as if such qualifies as news. 

Said Gary Ackerman, the former Democratic congressman from New York: “The media has changed. We now give broadcast licenses to philosophies instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment.”

People get confused between news and entertainment. 

People get confused between news and opinion.

Intelligent people get confused.

Hence, the problem with the press…

Respectfully…

AR

should we remove God?

So let’s just play this out…

What happens if we totally remove God from society?

What happens? It seems as if this is a desire by some, so let’s just play this out.

What if we no longer acknowledge God or aspire to be like him? What if we no longer recognize God’s existence? What if we no longer see him as good?

What if we conclude that God’s role in society is no longer necessary or doesn’t even exist?

What happens, therefore, if we actually remove him?

Without a doubt, everyone has a right to believe what they wish; belief is not forced. I have long thought of the key exchanges between the characters of Morgan Freeman and Jim Carrey in the hilarious “Bruce Almighty.” Freeman — portraying God’s earthly role — says, “You can’t mess with free will.” Later on in the movie, when Carrey’s character is desperately frustrated as his girlfriend (portrayed by Jennifer Aniston) no longer wants to be with him, Carrey cries out, “How do you make someone love you without changing free will?” To which Freeman responds, “Welcome to my world.”

So while we each have a right to believe, just because we believe it doesn’t make it true. And we can’t force anyone to believe like us… nor to believe in God.

So again, what then happens if we decide to remove God from society?

For the many who blame him — or blame his imperfect followers (because believe me; we can be very imperfect) — what if we just made it easier by removing all reference and acknowledgement of God? 

Would that make us/society better? … wiser? … easier for all of us to get along?

But then…

If we remove God from society, what becomes the definition of justice?

Who gets to decide what is just?

What becomes the definition of good and evil?

Who gets to decide what is good and evil?

One of the most significant challenges facing our country today is that we disagree on what good and evil are. We have different definitions, different extremes, and different applications of what is totally, outrageously wrong versus what’s acceptable or really not that bad.

When you and I disagree on what is good — or disagree on what is evil — conflict will fill the gap between us.

Isn’t that what we witness now? … so much conflict? … tension?

If we remove God and his role from our society, we remove the only authority capable of establishing absolute justice, good, and evil. If any of the rest of us then deem ourselves capable of such an exclusive role, justice, good, and evil will become relative.

Then what?

Respectfully…

AR

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