I watched a TV show the other night.It was the story of a man with PTSD after having been shot during a political rally. For the sake of privacy I will defer from giving identifying details, but the story very much touched my heart so I want to share it. I will call our friend, Albert. Albert works at an office that gathers information about victims of accidents.
Albert had been critically shot in the stomach. He remained at the local hospital for several days. After convalescing, he returned to work at the office. After a few days, Albert’s co-workers noticed a change in him. This usually cordial, jovial and easy-to- work-with executive started displaying unusual anger and displeasure when exposed to certain situations, situations which he would have normally not negatively been affected by. He also was obsessed about the reports concerning a man who committed suicide in a car, drawing similarities from that man to himself. The problem culminated when, during a meeting, Albert became very pushy, demanding, and angry when proposing his opinion to the C.E.O. Feeling that he had crossed the line, Albert thought to return to the meeting but his friend and boss Frank told him no. Albert went to a concert with a friend that night and there he had some sort of episode. He then went home where he hurt his hand by angrily breaking hitting and breaking the window of his apartment. Frank especially had noticed his friend’s attitude. His close co-workers had also noticed. Together they decided that Albert needed to see a traumatologist, something Albert absolutely didn’t want to do and was convinced he didn’t need.
At first Albert lied to the traumatologist. He said he hurt his hand with a knife while preparing some food. After much prodding, prying, and trying to discover all that Albert was trying to hide, the traumatologist succeeded in having him reminisce with him the events of the past three weeks. It is then that Albert saw a pattern.
The situations that caused him to lose ‘it’ all involved music. Music in someone’s office space; music by beggars in the subway; music at the concert, which is the place where he almost lost complete control. Finally Albert was confident enough to see the truth. He admitted that he had cut his hand trying to break his apartment window. Was he attempting to jump? Albert then realised that the trauma he had experienced caused him to be in denial even of reality. It took his friend, Frank to notice.
The traumatologist who had previously diagnosed Albert with PTSD. was now satisfied that Albert could remember the moment of his shooting without reliving it at the drop of a hat, or at the note of an instrument, as at this time, certain types of music reminded him of the numerous sirens of that fateful night. Albert asked his friend, “How did you know?” Frank then said, “Someone falls in a deep ditch and cannot come out. A doctor passes by. “Please sir help me...” the poor fellows begs. The doctor writes a prescription, throws it to the man in the ditch saying, “Here; take that and you'll be fine!” A priest passes by, “Please sir, help me!” The poor fellow continues begging. The priest writes a prayer, throws it to the man in the ditch and says, “Here, pray ?hat and you will be fine!” A friend then passes by, “Help me please; won’t you help me!” The friend then jumps in the ditch with the desperate man who says, “Great, now we are both in the ditch; how does that help?!” To which the friend says, “Yes but I was there before and I know the way out.”
Frank, who works with Albert, had faced similar issues in the past, and whereas Albert could fool himself, he could not fool Frank, nor any of his colleagues. Oh the treasure of having a friend who’s been ‘there’ before …!”
I heard an expression this week. When someone couldn’t corral a particular group together, he blurted out, “It’s like herding cats with you folks!’ Cats are very individualistic and very independant. It is said that one doesn’t own a cat, but a cat owns you. Their only social structure is their young. These attributes of individuality and independence could also be said of all predators.
Whereas animals, be they of a herdable or independent nature live their lives in response to their own inner instincts. We as humans, have been given the nature of ‘free will’. As such, we can chose to live our lives like the lone predator who instills fear and indiscriminately kills in order to remain at the top of the food chain, or we can be a social creature living by the rules of an organized society. We have a choice in the matter.
For example, because of the individualistic independence of its adherents, any given group may find it difficult to come to consensus on either small or great matter. As a result, its own inability to govern itself through consensus renders it vulnerable. History shows that, like the nature of the territorial predator who lives to destroy the other, such groups end up destroying themselves from within On the other hand, we have also seen in history that a group who allows itself to be coagulated into a strong common ideology without check and balance systems can be led into empirical evils. Our wisdom as human beings is to chose when to be what. There are times when one needs to stand from among the multitude as a reminder of the rule of law, but there are other times when, just in order to prevent societal breakdown into tribal wars, the value of strength through consensus transcends that of being right as an individual.
This latter exercise is the hardest one, but I would also say the most honorable one. It is the type of loyalty to a cause that makes our army and special forces able to do their job of defending the nation; that allows the police to be a coordinated force to protect the people. It is also the force that allows firefighters, EMT’s, and all first-responders to act in an efficient coordinated manner in order to save lives. All these people serve most of their lives under the command of others whether they like them or not, and sometimes even whether they agree with them or not. My mother-in-law was a nurse and she used to tell us how in her days even the nursing profession had a chain of command.
Among other things I am a History teacher. I watch our present world rapidly changing. It seems to change so fast that it can hardly keep pace with itself. I pray that our leaders will have the wisdom to know when to stand, and when to sit, learning to work in consensus in order to keep the strength that comes from a united front.
I learned about a new bird last week: The mockingbird. Here is what Wikipedia says about it: ‘They are best known for the habit of some species mimicking the songs of other birds and the sounds of insects and amphibians, often loudly and in rapid succession.” This reminded me of a story I read last week. It is a story found in the 16th chapter of the Book of Numbers in the Bible.
In this story, a man, Korah, rises against what felt to him like the authoritarian and nepotistic rule of Moses and his brother Aaron. In his revolt, he gathers over 250 other people and in essence tells Moses and Aaron, “Who do you think you are, setting yourselves up over everybody? There are many able folks here, too, who are as able to lead as you are…!”
At first glimpse, it seems that Korah sings the populist song. He is a man of the people fighting for true democracy. He promotes himself as one who is more concerned for the welfare of the nation than even Moses and Aaron. But a deeper look at the situation reveals a different song. History and genealogy books teach that whereas Korah was supposed to be the leader of his family clan, for one reason or another, Moses chose one of his younger brothers instead. As the mockingbird has no song of his own, he mimiks the beautiful song of others, and that because he has an agenda. Here is the continuation of Wikipedia’s entry on the mockingbird, ‘Some types of mockingbirds are known to lay "alien eggs", or eggs that are laid in another bird's nest. ... the mockingbirds' offspring will force the other nest inhabitants from the nest, taking all the food from the parents and forcing the foster-parents to rear and fledge them.’
And what is the idea behind all that? In every group, society, company, party, be they religious, commercial, or political, there will always be that one irritant to the leader, the person who constantly opposes him. For the most part, that person will bring very valuable points to the leader’s attention and a good leader will make good use of such a person. The problem comes when the person’s beautiful and righteous populist song is only a hypocritical cover-up for the brash noise of self-promotion.
Criticism is great. We should all invite criticism both in our our lives and in everything we do. It is the key to innovation and progress. But let us beware of the true motivations of those in our lives whose criticism is the cover-up for a selfish agenda.
Austin is a volunteer firefighter for the station of College near Walla-Walla. He wants to get married soon, so he started with an immersion into the discipleship of Yeshua.
We meet many people during our travels.While some are just beginning to make their mark on the world, many are also nearing or already in their retirement. It can be a frightful time to be empty nested and to stop many of the activities that they have been doing for decades and now face an uncertain future.They seem to have either given up or hanging on for dear life to accomplish some of their dreams before the death knell calls.
What is it that makes the difference between a life lived and a life endured? I recently heard a short film where they reported the findings of interviews that they had had with the dying. “What is your biggest regret?” they asked. Each replied and surprisingly, the majority of people expressed that their biggest regrets were not what they had done wrong or the mistakes they had made in the past, but their biggest regrets were all the things that they hadn’t done, but wished they had.
I heard a saying for a birthday greeting that said, “On this day, years ago, God looked down on the earth and saw that it was incomplete. It needed ONE more person and on your birthday it was YOU!” , ‘The day we are born is the day God decided that the world couldn't get along without us’. We are not born by accident. We all have something to accomplish in this life. We are all meant to mean something in the lives of others, and perhaps to history itself. , If not, what is the point of even being born! But how do we find this destiny that seems to elude so many of us?
Last night I spoke with an older woman who told me about her late husband. A man who “didn’t speak much” she said. She told me about the book he wrote but never published and the next morning showed me the dozens of paintings he did and never showed anyone. “For a man who didn’t speak much he obviously had much to say!” I told her. I then told her about the irony that most of us are never appreciated as we should during our lifetime. “Recognition is a posthumous friend” I told her. I then suggested that she fulfills her late husband’s destiny and legacy by publishing some of his works on a Facebook page.
For my part, I sometimes feel that destiny is like current. We have to find that jet stream, that water current, or those rail tracks that seem to propulse and direct us in the way that we should go. To find them may take at times some ‘letting go’, but at other times, it may require us to stiffen up and buck the tide. At the end of the ‘day’, the difference is made by having learned to recognize the signals; understanding when to buck the tide or let ourselves be carried by it.
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