An read article I read one day.
A country doctor answered an emergency call late one evening. It was about a child who was choking. . The night doctor was making good time on the empty country roads when suddenly he came to a point where there was no more road. The recent floods had caused sink hole right in the middle of the way. He now would have to take a long detour. The night doctor frantically stepped out of his car trying to evaluate the situation when a burly road worker came out of a big Bulldozer offering to help. The doctor explained the desperate situation when the road worker said, “You need a road? I’ll make you a road!”, upon which he proceeded to move dirt and create a road where before there was no road. The doctor rushed to the house where he found a mother in tears frantically holding in her arms a child turning blue from lack of oxygen. The doctor quickly remedied the situation and, to the great relief of all, the child started breathing normally. The doctor returned home taking a different route. And what of the worker who created a road where before there was no road? After finishing his shift late that evening, he went back home and learned how his baby boy had almost suffocated to death until a kind concerned doctor arrived and treated him.
Everybody responded to the need. It is the doctor’s duty and mandate to do so, but the road worker voluntarily drafted himself in the issue. Without question, he unselfishly responded to the need. He did not have to, but he did. He did not know the child was his, but this is what happens when we unselfishly answer the need around us: as we save others, we often save ourselves. I heard it said one time, “He who saves one life, saves a whole universe!”
I read an interesting story last week. It was about a wicked monarch who would not conceded his position to the rightful heir of a throne. Eventually the rightful king gathered his family and fled to exile.
A while later, a band of men gathered around him to support him. These were courageous soldiers and men who sought for purpose in their lives. They were ready for anything. The story gives an account of these courageous fighters. It tells us of valiant exploits they accomplished in the pursuit of their righteous cause and in the defense of their king. As I read about them, I discovered a hallmark, a trend in the attitude of some of these men which I think is what made them special. Every time it related to one of their exploits, the story says something like, “When everyone else fled, they alone continued and won the battle!” They were called great, mighty and courageous not because they knew how to fight well. Anyone with training can do that. Their valor was not in the perfection of their skills, but in their character and the strength of their devotion to the cause.
To continue in the rightness of a cause when everyone leaves shows a special strength of character. It is easy to go with the flow of things, to respond to feelings, to general trends, and to the prevailing attitudes around us. But to get in there when everybody stays home; to run forward holding the banner when everyone goes backward; indeed, to go against the despondent flow of the people, against the general attitude of indifference and selfishness that prevails in the innate nature of man, might represent the true true nature of what is coined as courage; the definition of a hero.
By the way, do you want to know who that King was who earned the devotion of these brave men? King David of the Bible (1 Samuel 22:2; 2 Samuel 23: 8-39)
Looking at the world around us, it is easy to become cynical. It is easy to let rational logic declare that man is a hopeless creature given to lust, greed, and lawlessness. I read an article this week that made me rethink some things. It is an article that pictures God counselling with the angels on the creation of man. After all, the Text does tell us that when it came the time to create man God did say, “Let US make man …” The story goes something like this.
When God decided to create man, Truth appeared, falling before God's throne, and in all humility begged God to refrain from calling into being a creature who is beset with the vice of lying and who will tread truth under his feet. Peace came forth to support this petition describing man as a “creature so full of strife and contention so as to disturb the peace and harmony of creation itself.” Then the soft voice of Charity exclaimed “Sovereign of the universe, create a being in Your likeness, for it will be a noble creature striving to imitate Your attributes by its actions…. I see him now in spirit seeking out those who are distressed and wretched to comfort them, drying the tears of the afflicted and despondent, raising up them that are bowed down in spirit, reaching his helping hand to those who are in need of help, speaking peace to the heart of the widow, and giving shelter to the fatherless. Such a creature cannot fail to be a glory to His Maker.' The Creator approved of the pleadings of Charity, called man into being, and cast Truth down to the earth to flourish there.
This story teaches us that in the balance of things, the acts of unselfish courage, the selfless deeds, the automatic humane impulse to rescue, and the noble acts of goodness that man is capable of, tip the balance in his favor in spite of all the evil he is also guilty of. This gave God, He who knows the end from the beginning, the go-ahead concerning the creation of man.
As we get together in families over the holiday season, may we look at our kin, especially those who rub us the wrong way, with the eyes of God who felt that the potential of goodness imbedded in that person makes him a worthy candidate to existence. After all, even a broken clock right twice a day!
It is said that our brain is not fully formed until we reach the age of 21. As such, the reasoning of someone under that age might be somewhat skewed since he does not have all the parts necessary to make fully rational assessments. I am aware of that when I teach teenagers in school. The main subjects I teach are current events, politics, religion, civic and social studies. I personally feel a sense of mission teaching these subjects to these young souls. I suppose that I will still be alive when they vote in less than 4 years, so I want them to vote intelligently.
I want my teaching to be relevant to them so my classes involve a lot of discussions about what is going on in the world today. Hearing what they have to say teaches me a lot. And mostly, it teaches me to recognise an unseasoned immature mind.
Teenagers often (notice I didn’t say always) find peace and stability in black and white extremes. Extremes are clear. Black and white reasoning keeps us safe from these complicated shades of grey. It is easy; it is simple; … but it is incomplete.
It is easy to simplify issues by polarising them we are faced with a situation that is too big for us or that we don’t understand. But human relationships are not always like Algebra. They don’t become simpler just because we simplified the equation. They just become unrealistic or untrue. They sometimes require all their elements to be properly assessed.
The easiest thing is to create 2 imaginary positions, “for’ and “against”, and polarise them out of any possible compromise. Isn’t compromise a sign of weakness? It is within the cocoon of these sad immature human-created imaginary situations that enmity, divorce, suicide, and even later on war between nations, emerge.
There is little saying I often repeat to my students. It has become a joke and they even finish the sentence for me when i start it. It is, “When 2 people vehemently argue opposite positions, it is usually because they are both … right!” I explain to them that since there is rectitude in both argument, they hold on to it, and that peace and understanding can only come when both sides try to find the rectitude in the other’s point of view. May we, who have grown to be adults teach our children the most important path they may travel in their lives: the one that meets someone halfway!
Sometime we look up to people that have much knowledge; that are knowledgeable. But is possessing knowledge always a sign of virtue? Some knowledge is good, while some is bad. How do we make the difference? It has been said that a tree is known by its fruits. It is a great statement but one that assesses a situation after the fact, like “Oooops, maybe I shouldn't have learned that!” I can right now think of a girl my wife and I helped to go to college. We housed her and gave her free childcare so she could get an education. Looking back now, we realise that whereas she learned some good things, a particular class that appealed to her wrecked her life and she is now in prison. How do we get ahead of the curve then? How do make sure to chose good knowledge?
It's like fishing. We do not prepare a fishing line with a bait if we desire to catch a whale, neither do use a harpoon to catch sardines. We first think of our targeted catch, then we prepare the equipment necessary to catch it. The same goes with safari hunting. We wouldn’t catch an elephant with lasso, nor a rhinoceros with a net.
It is important therefore, before launching into a study, that we first define what it is that we want to learn and why. What are the desired results?Do we want to learn economics so we can be sure to be one step ahead of everybody, or so we can create economic systems that promote parity? Do we learn science and chemistry in order to build bombs or create médecine?
As the type of food we want for dinner will define the tool we will use for fishing or hunting, the role we seek to fulfil in society should define the direction of our training and learning.
God has put in front of us the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While giving us the freedom to chose, He forbade us to eat from that tree; I guess He could see the results ahead of time. Today, as science and knowledge increases, this choice is still set before us as we wake up every morning. May we keep positive goals before us so our hearts will be drawn to the knowledge that makes us into individuals that positively benefit society.
Happy fishing, hunting, and learning!
If you appreciate these articles, support their upcoming publication in a book called, "REFLECTIONS OF A FIRE CHAPLAIN"