Saturday, July 6, 2013

Red Cups, Mizzou, and Everyone Else.....

* A re-publish from a couple years ago in light of recent events....

Every so often a celebrity or public figure comes out with a tweet or a statement that reveals their true feeling about another group of people.  One of the things I find interesting about the public reaction is that normally there is a huge outcry for said person to lose their job, or to lose sponsorship or be forced to apologize.  Immediate social pressure is created to somehow "punish" these people for being racist or homophobic or whatever prejudice they convey.  Why?

Why do we have to punish people for voicing their opinions?  Isn't that what America is supposed to be all about?  Isn't it about being able to speak your mind no matter how crazy your ideas might be?  Personally, I think its sad that anyone hate anyone else based on a general set of criteria, but when that person voices that sentiment and they are met with an overwhelming backlash crying out for them to be punished, then doesn't that only reinforce their already warped view?  Shouldn't sponsorship or whether or not someone keeps their job be a decision left to the employers and sponsors?

I'm afraid that America is becoming a place where people are being intimidated into keeping their controversial thoughts to themselves, suppressing their right to express themselves and creating a pressure cooker of venom.  If someone is a racist, they are a racist, if they are a homophobe they are a homophobe, firing them and forcing them to apologize will not change their heart.  If anything it will only provide it new resolve, fanning their flames of hatred.  As a Christian, I can tell you we have over 1,000 years of church history where we tried to "force" people to believe and think certain ways and it hasn't work out all that well.

If you don't agree with someone then don't agree with them.  If they say something you think is out of line, then tell them they are out of line.  Punishing them for what they think doesn't make them change their mind and does nothing to fix the real problem which resides in their heart.  A wise man once said we should "love our enemies."  It sounds crazy but for the entire history of mankind just about everyone, including His very followers, have pretty well tested the idea of hating our enemies and this is where we are at.  Perhaps it might be worth giving His idea a try.    

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Profile of a Hero (A Tribute to the Granite Mountain Hotshots)

After spending almost 12 years as a First Responder my heart is always broken when news comes out about any sort of emergency service member losing their life.  The loss of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots was especially hard as it is local and I have friends who knew many of these guys.  My hearts and prayers go out to their families and loved ones as their pain must be unbearable.  For what its worth, we all love you guys.

If I may split hairs for a moment, I'd like to comment a bit on the idea that these 19 men were heroes because they were firefighters.  I'd like to suggest that they were already heroes who happened to become firefighters.  I realize that these men will be immortalized and remembered for the job they did, but lets not forget that its still just a job and that there is and was so much more to who they each were.  The same can be said for any First Responder.  The job doesn't make them great, they were great when they chose the job.  One of the most terrible ironies of death is that it is often the only way for true greatness to be exposed and appreciated.  Last weekend, nobody knew the names of any of these men.  They were just a group of average guys doing the job they loved.  Sadly, due to the tragic circumstances of their death, it is only now that the world will learn of the types of human beings they already were.  It is only now that they will receive the recognition they already deserved.  Death, you are hated for the immeasurable pain you inflict, but for some strange reason you must also be respected as you also can bring the honor due to a great life that it might have never received without you.

What a horrible trade for the families.  To trade a quiet, unassuming life to live with your hero in your arms or have them taken from you to the applause of the world for how great they were.  This week is just one more testament that it is how one lived that makes them a hero not how they died.  Sadly, thought, it seems like it is death that often provides the needed spotlight.  In the midst of this let's not forget their sole surviving brother.  May you Brendan McDonough not be forgotten in all of this.  May you receive comfort in your pain and may we all recognize you for the hero you are as well.

Godspeed to each of you gentlemen......and I pray that we don't forget to remember how you lived along with how you died.