Monday, August 29, 2016

A man must stand up

Have you ever thought about the posture one takes during the National Anthem at public events?  A quick look at the crowds, and you will see some still wearing their hats or not placing their hand over their heart, or even sometimes not standing. Nobody usually is critical of these folks. When a celebrity or a star player doesn't stand, it's a different matter, and everybody is talking. In the past few days the talk has been about Colin Kaepernick. Folks have been critical in the past of his playing on the field and of his numerous tattoos, but this is different. Kaepernick has refused to stand for the Star Spangled Banner, and yesterday said he will continue to sit.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," said Kaepernick. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Most of what I am hearing about his action claims he is disrespectful. Do you agree? Is there a time when you should stand up (no pun intended) for your principles? I know a politician who would not say the last line of the Pledge to the Flag, because she said there was no "liberty and justice for all." Many said she showed no respect for her country, but was that really the case? When should you risk your reputation? When should you go against what most others do, in order to bring about change for the overall better?  ALWAYS.  A person should always stand up for what is right.  A person should always try to make positive change!

In his autobiography, baseball great Jackie Robinson told of when he did the same thing Colin Kaepernick is now doing. "There I was, the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps, it was, but then again, perhaps, the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today, as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made."

I happen to agree that we should no be looking the other way - that we should take a stand. I agree with Jackie Robinson and with Colin Kaepernick. In fact, I think we need to do a lot more than just refusing to stand for the National Anthem, but at least that is a start!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hospital Roommates

Occasionally I have shared stories here that are not my own.  Today I have one of those.  It's my birthday, so I decided not to do any real work - I'll just bring you this story from someone else.  This has been floating around on the internet, and I have no idea who wrote it, but please read on for a moving tale.

"Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for endless hours.
 
"They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, and where they had been on vacation.
 
"Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.  The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
 
"The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.  As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

"One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.  Although the other man couldn't hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
 
"Days and weeks passed.
 
"One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
 
"As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
 
"Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.  He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.  It faced a blank wall!
 
"The man called the nurse and asked her what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.  The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
 
She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'"

Great story, huh?  As I said, the author of this is unknown.  You may have even read it before, but I think it is worth seeing again.  I was very moved when I first read this story, and I hope it touches you too.

There's also a video that was uploaded to youtube a few years ago on my birthday. It's a different version of the same idea, and I hope you will check it out HERE. Do share this with others too. That's what encouragement is all about.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fifty

Walking down an unfamiliar street in Buffalo, New York a number of years ago, it suddenly began to rain. It wasn't a light shower but rather a cold and pounding downpour. I wasn't wearing an overcoat and had no umbrella, so I was soaked almost immediately. My usual sunny mood had turned to quite the opposite, but all that was about to change.

Hurrying up the sidewalk with water pouring off of me, I looked down and there in front of me was a fifty dollar bill! Oh my! Now the rain didn't seem so bad. If it hadn't been raining, surely that money would have blown away. I put it in my pocket and continued on my way.

Later when I mentioned my good luck to a friend, he said "But it isn't yours. Did you even try to find the rightful owner?"

This wasn't a wallet or an identifiable piece of property. It was US currency that someone had likely dropped without knowing, but since I didn't witness it, how could I possibly find the person it belonged to?

I'm telling you this story today to solicit your thoughts. Was I wrong to keep it? Was that a dishonest act? What would YOU have done?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Good cops

So many stories this year about police officers abusing their power, breaking the law, and killing people during stops. One might begin to think that the police are all bad, but that isn't the case. As horrible as the bad stories are, we need to also look at the good, and the vast majority of actions by police are positive things that make a difference for the better.

This week, two Kansas City, MO police officers, discovered a little boy standing on a street corner waiting for his bus to school. He's been waiting a long time though, in fact he had missed his bus. They got him in their car and then found out he hadn't eaten breakfast, either, so they took him to McDonald's. Then they got him safely to his school, got him a hall pass, and walked him to classroom. I'm thinking that this little boy will long remember his help from the police this week!

I actually hear stories like this one in Kansas City all the time. It's a shame that more of them are not made public. Please feel free to share some of your knowledge of good cops, in the comments section below.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Nature's Wrath

With huge flooding devastating Louisiana (which has been called by the Red Cross, the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy four years ago), the world turned yesterday to numerous other examples of nature's wrath. Early in the morning, a powerful 6.2 magnitude earthquake rocked central Italy, killing at least 247 people and causing massive destruction, and uncountable injuries. Later yesterday, central Burma was hit by a powerful 6.8-magnitude causing more destruction and loss of life. Closer to home it was storms that would cause damage. Multiple tornadoes struck the area of Kokomo and Howard County, Indiana Wednesday piling cars on top of each other as if they were toys, as well as damaging homes and leveling buildings. Although there are reported injuries from yesterday's twisters in Indiana, no deaths have been reported.

With so much natural disaster going on around the world, it is hard to zoom in on just one. Any destruction is life-changing. When it involves personal injury or loss of life, this is even more life-changing. In times of emergency, we hear tales of heroes spring up everywhere you look, and that is indeed a heart-warming thing. Sadly there are also those who take advantage of situations like this - the price gougers and swindlers and those who loot damaged homes and businesses. Fortunately the bad guys are not the majority. Fortunately there are a lot more givers. At times when a major event happens, donations are welcome and the best place is always a known charity - the Red Cross for example. Also, sometimes volunteers are helpful. The best thing is to follow instructions that you find through local media.

We never know what tomorrow may bring. We do know though that together, we can always do better than all by ourselves. Whether we know folks in Louisiana or central Italy, or in and of the many places where natural disaster hits, or whether we don't know anyone there at all, is not important. The important thing is to remember that these are human beings - just like us. In times of trouble, would we want others to reach out and help us? Of course! Let's do the same thing for others in need. We might not all have a lot of money, but we can pray for the victims, or help collect blankets (when appropriate), or spread the word, or donate blood, or any number of things that might make a difference. When nature's wrath attacks, we should all come together and give, each in our own way - and make a difference!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Be the spark

I love it when folks post encouraging things on facebook, Instagram, or twitter. Encouraging others, I think actually encourages ourselves. Sometimes I read a long and very profound message, and other times it is short and to the point. ("Be Kind")

This morning as I looked at my twitter feed, this jumped out at me: "All it takes is a single spark to build a fire. Commit to being that spark in your community and make a difference." Wow! I couldn't have said it any better. 
 
Be the spark.  Isn't that what we talk about here every day - being the spark? More and more I see folks agreeing, and I think this world is getting better each day!  Let's all keep encouraging each other.  Let's all keep making a difference!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What sayeth you?

So many speeches during this political campaign season. How many are saying things of substance though? Will you be able to quote anyone in a year's time, or even in a month?

A great President long ago spoke these words: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." Who will forget these words of Abraham Lincoln?

From John F Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." He also said "A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on."

From the wonderful Maya Angelou, who always inspired me: "Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud." What an incredible woman she was! One of my favorite quotes from her is "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."

The great inventor Thomas A. Edison said "If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." Sounds good to me! Let's listen to him and to the many voices that have encouraged us, and let's astound ourselves!