Many people achieve great and mighty things by pushing the margins of their lives to near extinction. They may even look impressive with their achievements. Yet there’s little room for things that decorate humanity like peace, love, relationships and revelation.
Amidst all the finger wagging and name calling what ends up happening is we start feeling good about ourselves, even when we should be doing more, because let’s face it, we’re not as bad as he is!
No, this is not about the Kardashians or Crossfit. This is about real life and it’s going to sting. Why? Because, after reading quite a bit over the past few days I’m convinced that unless I write a tome of the size of “War and Peace,” I’m going to leave something out, and someone, somewhere will be triggered, I just know it. So, bear with me for the next 800 or so words, this isn’t exhaustive. Feel free to chime in after. Part of the answer to this massive dilemma is collective unity, across the board.
The headlines were amazingly eye catching. “Protestors Carry Torches on Virginia Campus.” I clicked the bait. Squinting at the ridiculousness of it all, I laughed! I was expecting to see “Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman” torches and a few pitchforks. But Tiki torches? “Are they serious?” I thought. Are they headed to a backyard barbecue? Horseshoes, anyone? And although I laughed, my smile quickly faded. They looked ludicrous and they were dead serious.
Let me be crystal clear; there was absolutely nothing humorous about what took place in Charlottesville, VA. Racism is wrong. White supremacy is wrong. It’s wrong, ungodly, evil and atrocious! And when we speak of racism, Naziism or anything else lessening the worth of a human being, we have to stay on point. What I mean is this: A lot of articles compared Tiki totting, white evil in Charlottesville to the Black Lives Matter groups shooting cops and burning businesses. They seemed to express that one justified the other. You can't compare, and I’ll tell you why - just hold your socks for a moment longer.
There can be no “buts” in addressing racism. One group’s actions do not condone other’s.
Racism is wrong!
“But, they’re racist…”
“But, look what they did…”
It. Is. Never. Justified.
Each incident must be critiqued independently. Comparison breeds numbness and indifference, with the lesser offense, even though heinous, looking acceptable in light of the more abhorrent. So, the parade of patio flames was nefarious and every other adjective applicable in describing the walking evil. Racism is wrong. And, the demolition of public property, the pulling down of statues is wrong, brainless and ineffectual. The former doesn’t justify the latter! Nor does the greater evil absolve the lesser. No buts about it!
They showed us their “buts…” and it wasn’t appropriate!
In Kindergarten we were supposed to have learned that two wrongs don’t make a right. How far we have fallen from, “Warm cookies and milk are good for you!” Some of the most prominent political pundits fell into the trap! They showed us their “buts…” and it wasn’t appropriate!
Lastly, what I find particularly reprehensible, even more so than the slowness of leaders and the President to renounce the Charlottesville Tiki toters is this: many marching, destroying, and hating identify as Christians!
So, what you’re telling me is this: you claim to follow a man who was 1) born in the middle east, 2) was Jewish, 3) was dark skinned, 4) was a stranger in this world, 5) spoke a different language than English - unless you believe Hollywood, 6) sacrificed himself so that others could be free, 7) allowed himself to be slapped on one cheek, insulted, and then offered the perpetrator the other, 8) kept his mouth shut when he was insulted, and yet you hate someone of another color, creed or religion? You're so easily offended! You declare, “Down with hate!” while wishing the opposition dead or burned alive? Wow! We need Jesus more than ever!
Some Christians need to get saved!
Every single person will one day give an account for their actions. No one gets absolved by being compared to Adolf Hitler, Chairman Mao Zedong or Pol Pot! You are judged in the light of a perfect, holy God, not in the light of evil.
In the mean time, the only thing for evil to persist is for good people to do nothing. So…if you’re wrestling with what to do before you meet the Big Guy, here are some excellent suggestions.
- Speak up. If you haven’t already, find a voice against racism, bigotry, and injustice. It doesn’t have to be a big voice, but it has to be a voice.
- Listen up. Be intentional about listening to others who are different than you, and then, keep listening. Ignorance is not bliss; it’s unloving. Hint: It doesn't mean you have to agree!
- Seek and destroy. Not others, rather, the bits and pieces of racism, bigotry, hatred and injustice existing in your own heart. And if you don’t think you have any, you haven’t searched hard enough.
- Get leveled. Start looking at life through the correct lens. It may be “right for you” but is it right? Apparently, some believe racism is right! The only way to know truth is to seek Truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the Truth and the life, no one gets to the Father except through me.” Forget opinions and feelings, go for Truth! Then you'll have a proper gauge for right and wrong.
- Keep your buts to yourself. Judge and act on each situation independently. When you start comparing, you’ll give evil a foothold, and that’s all it needs to root, grow and fruit - in the most subtle of ways.
When they kept on questioning (Jesus), he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8
Racism is always wrong. No buts about it!
Check out my other blogs on this issue: Eating the Elephant and America Gone Wild.
A true-to-the-faith firehouse swirls around one vision, to protect, defend and rescue.
If we’re going to lead well, we don’t have time to play the victim.
A few weeks ago I had the humble privilege of engaging a dozen phenomenal seventh and eight grade students. They were part of an inaugural, three-day event called, Team Leadership Initiative. It was an honor to be asked to speak on the topic of, Faith in Leadership. When I teach or present topics I like to make the session interactive since lecture is the least effective way people learn. So, I prepared a skeleton of my presentation, leaving lots of pockets, catalyzed with questions, for discussion.
I arrived with several pages of quotes from well known and not-so-significant leaders. I was very pleased to find a few of the students were familiar with all of the quotes. It was invigorating to interact with and discuss how faith affects leadership. The topic is worth far more than one hour.
However, emerging from the back-and-forth banter was the question of what should the posture be of a leader who finds herself in adverse situations. “Leaders don’t have the luxury of playing the victim,” I said. These words seemed to roll off my tongue as though I’d been saying them for years, but I hadn’t...
Remember, success is intentional!
Well, to be perfectly precise, Sir Winston The Great! He’s our ten-year-old, West Highland Terrier. He’s quite the character. Seventeen pounds of pooch with a ton of passion. He’s the embodiment of the phrase, little body, big heart. We were on a walk the other day, and we stopped for a moment to catch our breath. It was quite warm, and the pavement radiated heat like a furnace. I saw and captured a photo I’m including with this post. It made me think of all the years gone by with this big-hearted dog.
Winston is the second of our two Westies. The older, wiser, more cautious Reilly, aka The Wonderful Mister O’Reilly (it has nothing to do with the political pundit!), is deliberate and calculated. He’s never run into a wall chasing a ball. But he has slid off the edge of the couch while sluggardly sleeping on his back. But Winston, well, let’s put it this way, if Winston were our first dog, we wouldn’t have two...
Facing a terrible, seemingly insurmountable ordeal? This too can be a great blessing.
I’m always on the look out for writing topics. That’s why the parenthetical title of this blog is, All Who Wander Are Not Lost. In my “wandering” I’m always looking for things of this world and connections to the internal or spiritual. Often those revelations serendipitously appear like an ice cube down the back on a hot August day - very startling yet amazingly refreshing. Most of the time, they’re subtle and shy, slow to develop and emerge. I had two ideas brewing for this week’s post. One was on Sabbath and the other focused on my dog, Winston. However, what I’m about to share is the proverbial ice cube on the spine.
I'm part of a speaking cluster meeting every month since January. At gatherings, a guest presents techniques to improve our public pitches. Then, after lunch - today we were allocated a mere 13 minutes - we circle up listening to just a few in the group for 5-minute rotations. Today started off with a curve ball. Instead of 5 minutes and prep time, we’d have a minute-and-a-half to tell a story from our life, extemporaneously.
A good friend went first and did wonderfully relaying a story about his wife and kids. Next, Andrew went and spoke about The Boston Red somebodies or other. It was good, but not New York Yankee good. Somewhere in the pit of my soul, I knew I was next and, sure enough, Dave the Moderator, came through. And of all the things I could’ve talked about, I chose a rather heavy topic.
About two years ago, actually it was August 4, 2015, my wife and I walked, hand-in-hand, out of the hospital towards our car, in complete silence. I don’t remember much other than beelining to the vehicle. I opened her door - in silence. Inserting the key into the ignition, I started the engine and we drove out of the parking lot - in silence. We weren’t too far down the road when I spoke to Kris with a raspy voice. “Well, I guess if, ‘we can be pregnant,' then ‘we can have cancer.’” Silence...
What if we've been conditioned, even encouraged, to handle big problems with more emotion and intensity than we should? What if, we approached them with the same matter-of-factness as we do when the toothpaste runs out?
I just received a new shipment from my favorite caffeine dealer, Birch Coffee in NYC. I wanted to try their Brazilian roast, so breaking out my Chemex, scale, and kettle, I brewed a batch. I’d gotten up early this morning, so I had extra time to take time. With the warm weather, I strolled out to our patio with coffee in hand, sipping carefully the delightful flavor I’ve come to expect from Birch Coffee. Savoring both the cloudless sky and a delightful breeze rustling the edges of the plants surrounding the patio, it was a perfect morning to enjoy café fresca! But, as in most situations when you’re vacationing in your mind but living in reality, it was time to shuffle off to work.
I’ve been making my way through an insightful book called, Creativity Inc. It’s the story of Pixar by one of its founders, Ed Catmull, full of anecdotal lessons on life and leadership. Being both a fan of Pixar and healthy leading, it’s been a great read. The other night I finished the chapter on change where Ed drills down into the depths of our fears surrounding change. One thing catching my attention was his differentiation on handling small and large problems; he says there isn’t any! Running out of toothpaste isn’t confronted any differently than a crashed computer hard drive storing years of work - but we’ve been conditioned to think there is and so for one we are calm and the other we fuss...
Blooming where you're planted, when wedged between two hard places may be more beneficial than we think.
When our doctrine, regardless of our religion, outsizes our compassion, we are truly out of balance.