heroes & villains & how we cheer

“I often wonder if sports have become too important to us,” said this diehard Purdue-Reds-Bengals-Colts-DrewBrees-StephCurry-Pacers-Fever-Florida-and-growing-Ohio-State fan.

We seem to have forgotten that sports — at their core — are a game…

… “A form of play… especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.”

And yet we look at players on the teams we love and make them heroes…

“He’s such a great guy”…

“Wow… so awesome on and off the court!”…

“Her character… she is such a wonderful person!”

We also look at those on the teams we detest and make them villains…

“Look at him flop — again! Doesn’t everyone see what a terrible person he is!”

“What a jerk!”

“Such dirty players… I can’t stand them!”

And so we make character assessments based on minimal information. Maybe we make assessments based on their off-court public appearances; maybe we make them based on their charitable donations. But the reality is that each is still, always, an incomplete assessment. We cannot determine hero or villain based on such limited assessment.

I was reminded of such watching the current NBA playoffs. It’s been arguably more interesting this year with several quite talented teams (and most deciding to finally play defense). One of those teams — plausibly, primarily due to the presence of all-world all-star, LeBron James — is the Cleveland Cavaliers. With all due respect to my northeast Ohio hardcourt enthusiasts, allow me to humbly admit that I am not a very big fan.

I don’t hate the Cavs (…remember this is just a “game”). I am often impressed with LeBron’s tenacity and his ability to seemingly, sometimes, singlehandedly will his team to win. But I must also admit, when they miss a shot — especially if the Pacers or Steph Curry is playing in opposition —  I am somewhat pleased. When Cleveland’s Kyle Korver misses a three, for example, I am especially pleased…

Well, at least I was. Then I read this, last week, from ESPN…

“… A 15-year veteran, Korver prides himself on his consistency and levelheadedness. These are cornerstones of what has made him one of the greatest 3-point shooters in NBA history. His mother, Laine, who once scored 73 points in a high school game, taught him that you’re not great until you’re consistent. He’d always taken it to heart.

But since a terrible week in March, his balance, that fragile component for all shooters, has been off.

Korver’s youngest brother, Kirk, died on March 20 after a brief illness that caught the family and the doctors by surprise. It was devastating for the close-knit family and for the town of Pella, where Kyle’s father, Kevin, has been the senior pastor of one of the community’s largest churches for 25 years, and the Korver brothers are treated as ambassadors and heroes [emphasis mine].

In Pella, though, in the days and weeks after Kirk’s death, there has been an element beyond grief, an unexpected uplifting. It started at the funeral, attended by more than 1,500 people at the Third Reformed Church of Pella, when Kyle and his parents spoke with such purpose that it left those in attendance in awe. And it has carried on as each Korver 3-pointer splashes through the net in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff run as he plays for more than himself.

‘You know it’s hard to hold death in one hand,’ Kyle said. ‘Your brother passing. Everything you feel about that and you get playoffs. Nothing else gives you different eyes for what’s going on in the world and what’s important and what matters.’”

There is something in Korver that makes me believe he gets that there are more important things than sports… that sports are — at their core — a game…

May we never forget that. May we never forget what’s most important.

And as the NBA Finals begin tomorrow, at least when Korver hits a three, I might even cheer.

Respectfully…

AR

note to the graduate ’18

[Originally penned 3 years ago, when my oldest was graduating from high school. My sense is the wisdom still applies…]

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…

A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

As we pen a final post to those now formally entering adulthood, allow us to address a few more brief truths as you take these next few, albeit humongous steps…

First, there is a time for everything — every activity under heaven, every season under the sun. Hear me now: you will not enjoy nor desire each of these times. Every activity will not be wonderful nor every season incredibly joyous and fun. Don’t let me discourage you; that’s not my intent. My intent is to wrestle with reality.

Remember that enjoying and embracing are not the same thing. As you face life’s next chapters, the truth is that there will be seasons and chapters that stretch you beyond your wildest imagination — beyond where you ever thought you’d go or perhaps ever wanted. You have a choice in how to respond. When the time comes to tear down or turn away, embrace the time; when the time comes to speak, speak — or be quiet, be quiet. Enjoying the season is less important than learning from the experience. The wise man learns and grows from the seasons that are hard.

Second — and don’t let me shock you — but contrary to perhaps your long-held belief (or any fictional, parenting mantra) — you cannot be whatever you want to be. I’m sorry; remember… we are wrestling with reality. Similar to the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and that jolly old St. Nick, there are a few things we’ve told you that aren’t actually true.

It is true that you cannot be whatever or whoever you want to be (… just ask all those who’ve thought they should be President). You can, however, be all that God created you to be. 

Embrace your gifts. Utilize the unique wiring within you — the wiring that makes you distinctly and beautifully, uniquely you! Don’t compare yourself to another, falling prey to society’s hollow teaching that another person’s wiring or set up is somehow better or worse than yours. Simply embrace your own strengths and grow from your own weaknesses. Seek God first; seek his intention for your life. Then be who he created you to be, and do what he created you to do. Don’t compare your calling to any other.

And third (because this proud, reflective parent always has seemingly much to say), let me offer a brief rapid fire of final encouragement…

Love deeply. Offer grace generously. Never view grace and truth as opposites, as each can be applied in full measure. Wash your sheets. Don’t be selfish. Resist being quick to anger. Be fast to forgive. Be humble. Forgive again. And again. Pursue wisdom. Consider coffee. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Separate the reds from the whites. Be charitable. Save some; spend some; and give some away. Don’t be afraid of sorrow. Turn off the XBOX. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t think of equality with God as something to be grasped. Listen to the elderly; invest in the young. Bow and curtsy when appropriate. Show respect — in what you say and how you think. Remember that respect does not mean accepting as equally good and true. Remember that all things are not equally good and true. Know when to say that; know when to not. Open doors for other people. Look another in the eye. Use your napkin. Be discerning. Be aware that just because something feels good, it might not be wise. Be prayerful. Figure the faith thing out. And embrace each and every season shared above… embracing the time to laugh… the time to cry… the time to grieve… and yes, the time to dance.

There is a time for everything. God has made everything beautiful for its own time. Graduates, without a doubt, now is your time to dance. Enjoy… how beautiful…

With a special salute to this year’s grads…

AR

Harry, Meghan & me

Millions awoke in the wee hours, early Saturday morning to watch Meghan Markle marry her Prince. Those millions heard the words of the Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, the presiding bishop of the American Episcopal Church, sharing a message wise for each of us to hear and to heed… sharing wisdom in a world where prayers will always be necessary, even when we can’t see it… 

From Rev. Curry, with emphasis from the Intramuralist:

“And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen. From the Song of Solomon in the Bible, set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, passion, fears as the its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods. Drown it out.

The late Dr. Martin Luther King once said and I quote, ‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world.’

Love is the only way. There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love. If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved. Well, there’s power, power in love, not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love.

There’s a certain sense in which when you are loved and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it, when you love and you show it, it actually feels right. There’s something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love and our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here. Ultimately the source of love is God himself — the source of all of our lives.

There’s an old medieval poem that says, ‘where true love is found, God himself is there.’ The New Testament says it this way, ‘Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God and those who love are born of God and know God; those who do not love do not know God; why? For God is love. There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love, to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. Set me as a seal on your heart. A seal on your arm. For love, it is strong.’

But love is not only about a young couple. Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we’re all here. Two young people fell in love and we all showed up. But it’s not just for and about a young couple who we rejoice with. It’s more than that. Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer the sum of the essence of the teachings of Moses and he went back and reached back into the Hebrew scriptures, and Jesus said, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment.’

And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. And then in Matthews’ version, he added, he said on these two, love of God and love of neighbor, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world, love God. Love your neighbors. And while you’re at it, love yourself.

Someone once said that Jesus began most revolutionary movement in all of human history, a movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world. And a movement mandating people to live that love. And in so doing, to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I’m talking about some power, real power, power to change the world.

If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s antebellum south who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power, they explained it this way, they sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity, something that can make things right, to make the wounded whole.

‘There is a balm in Gilead to heal the soul. They said if you cannot preach like Peter and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus how he died to save us all. Oh, that’s the balm in Gilead.’

He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t—he wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life. He sacrificed his life for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the well-being of the world, for us.

That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish sacrificial redemptive love, changes lives and it can change this world…’

If we would realize the redemptive power of love…

If we would follow the call to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength…

If we would learn to love all of our neighbors as opposed to only the easiest to love…

And if we would remember that love is never selfish or self-centered…

Maybe then we’d see what actually would change lives and change the world.

The world will not be changed via legislation. The world will not be changed via government. Changing the world starts with us… by loving and respecting both God and one another. 

Respectfully…

AR

a remarkable sequence of events

Fascinating…

Breathtaking…

Scary…

And wow. 

It’s getting hot in Hawaii.

Let’s talk first about what’s actually happening; second, let’s add a few, farther-reaching thoughts, briefly reflecting upon the “fascinating, breathtaking, scary, and wow.”

Have you noticed the remarkable images recently hailing from Hawaii’s biggest island? As reported by Ars Technica (which is far more “technica” than moi), which routinely offers colloquial, scientific insight and opinion, describing the Big Island of Hawaiʻi:

“… There are five individual volcanoes that make up the island. Of those five, Kīlauea is the youngest, comprising the southeastern edge of the island. Kīlauea’s summit is home to a collapsed crater called Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. In 2008, a new vent appeared in the floor of the crater, which has hosted a lake of roiling lava ever since.

Volcanic activity also takes place along a straight southwest-northeast line known as the East Rift Zone. In 1983, eruptions produced Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Crater, which also hosts a lava lake. Eruptions of lava have continued intermittently in the East Rift Zone ever since…

Almost four weeks ago, it became clear something could be brewing. The number of small earthquakes within the volcano—produced by the movement of magma—ramped up. And as the lava lake at Halemaʻumaʻu began rising, precise satellite and ground sensor measurements showed that Kīlauea was inflating—clear signs that some fresh magma had been delivered. Eruptions don’t always follow volcano inflation, but it’s a darn good sign that the risk has increased…”

The U.S. Geological Center is watching closely. Multiple homes have already been destroyed and some 2,000 residents have evacuated, as earthquakes continue, sulfur dioxide is entering the air, and at least 20 fissures have now been reported; note that fissure #17 is said to be several hundred yards long. “No matter what they number them,” reports CNN, “for residents, the fissures just mean more reasons to run.”

“What happens next?” asks observers. 

Experts are uncertain how much longer this could continue; eruptions from the existing fissures or from new ones may drag on. However, there is intensifying concern that an explosion similar to Kīlauea’s 1924 eruption could soon take place. The 1924 explosion launched boulders as big as 14 tons into the air… and there was very little warning.

So back to adding a few, farther-reaching thoughts…

Most of us watching this event unfold are not watching from the nation’s 50th state. In fact, Hawaiʻi is only one of the five islands of Hawaii, and only approximately, 10 square miles have thus far been affected. Hence, airlines and hotels are reporting few cancellations, and the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau is still actively encouraging tourists to come. The eruptions don’t seem to be significantly disrupting the island’s tourism industry.

So how do we respond when we see these remarkable images? … images of mounting steam, spewing spatter bombs, and lava with a fluvial flow?

Fascinating…

Breathtaking…

But it’s fascinating and breathtaking when removed from the situation. The potential damage and harm only affects a percentage that’s few. Hence, we are sometimes numb to the “scary,” instead more aware of the “wow.”

I wonder where else we do that. When a situation doesn’t directly affect us, where does our awareness of the seriousness of a situation dissipate?

Maybe that’s a quieter, far humbler “wow”…

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

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