Look disappointment in the eye…and plow on through.
That’s what Ben Ferencz has been doing since successfully prosecuting twenty-two Nazi SS officers for atrocities in 1947; fighting relentlessly against genocide and oppression all over the world. When asked by CBS if it discouraged him that the world was still full of injustice, he said, “No. It takes courage not to get discouraged,” then reminded Lesley Stahl of the progress that had been made.
It takes courage not to get discouraged is a bit redundant, yet, because I am a person who throws in the towel too easily, it has become my new motto. Thank you, Ben, for your inspiration.
Today, I inaugurate myself
As the commander in chief of my own future
I celebrate my promotion
To the role of the productive leader
Of my life, full of promise and hope
Out off yesterday’s role of
Chicken little, hopeless victim, or discouraged martyr
Today I will usher myself
With a flourish and a solemn promise
Into my new position of power
Supported by the noble and the brave
Who have gone before, and will come after
Those who chose, and will choose
Action over words
Mercy over malice
And resolve over fear
Anger won’t fix it.
Euphoria won’t last.
Even the best of humans will need forgiveness.
There are no deliverers and magic potions.
The only elixir for election hangover?
Courage to look square in the face of our humanity
In whatever form it threatens
And ask for help.
And be help
Without animosity for winners or losers.
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in…
Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865
Not a pick-up line that the average Joe would use, but it unexpectedly brought great love into the lives of two strangers.
Chris Dempsey said he was in the break room one day when he overheard a guy talking about this woman who needed a liver donor. “I spent four years in the Marine Corps and learned there never to run away from anything. So I just said to myself, ‘Hey, if I can help, I’m going to help.’”
What a response! And what a great reminder of a no-strings-attached generosity that attracts the right people into our lives.
Most of us want two things from a partner: 1) strength and independence, and 2) generosity. Chris Dempsey sure had that nailed.
Want better results with romance? Start here.
Story and photo courtesy of CBS Evening News.
Before we bash the leaders of the election debacle for everything under the sun, we might consider getting off our high horse long enough to recall…
- times we have slung our own share of mud at family members, exes, bosses, coworkers, neighbors, teachers, and cable companies
- hyperbolic indictments we have made against rivals or merely those who disagreed with, or contradicted us
- grudges we have held
- bridges we have burned
- blame and shame we have passed around like a virus
- reputations we have tarnished with adolescent-like gossip
After all, the debacle would not be happening if we “noble Americans” and humanoids were not such practiced and gullible targets for pathetically embarrassing and immature tactics.
I detest the deafening static of the election as much as anyone, so I am not suggesting we should embrace it; only that we should look at the TV or computer screen carefully enough to see our own reflection staring back at us.
We can make noise about how other people do it, or we can make a bigger difference by acknowledging our own stuff and doing less of it ourselves.
Pronouncing our disgust with others and their decisions is easy.
Giving the benefit of the doubt until we know all of the facts is hard.
Have you ever felt the pain of being misunderstood?
Has someone you loved ever jumped to the wrong conclusion?
Has a stranger ever assumed you were less than what you were?
Been talked about behind your back?
Remembering this pain can motivate us to be more merciful…
…in our conversations
…on social media
…in our actions
…when reacting to the media and to gossip
An unwillingness to own the fallibility of our judgment is a source of much pain in this world; of innocent people being incarcerated and punished, and, of the ugliest bigotry and discrimination.
We have many opportunities to be bigger than that.
Politics don’t have to disappoint us.
I became a lot happier and nicer to people when I accepted these truths:
- No politician can save us.
- Whoever is elected will screw up and be mercilessly accused of screwing up.
- If I have to be mean to prove my point, I have already lost.
- We’ve been wrong before. (Lincoln was so unpopular that, after elected, he had to sneak into Washington in disguise.)
- There are good people with good motives in every political party.
- The pendulum will swing back.
- My passion for my country is a force for good only when it is combined with deep passion and honor for people of every group and every nation.
- I am a member of, and responsible to, the human race first; a citizen of the world (not just of my particular country or party).
There’s a heck of a lot of opinion-spouting going on about injustice, and how bad certain groups of people are: blacks, whites, law-enforcement, politicians, democrats, republicans, etc., etc.
It just adds more unproductive noise to an already inhospitable world unless we…
- refrain from over-generalization (there are good people in all groups!)
- refuse to judge before we invest a little in mercy
- seek to understand before we seek to be understood
- remember that we, ourselves, are not blameless
Even though throwing stones takes the focus off my own failures for awhile and puts me in the lofty seat of judge and jury, the next time I am tempted to join in, I think I’ll take my stones and build something instead.
A woman at a bus stop on Waikiki surprised passersby by screaming “Shut up!” to a little boy who was chattering nonsense. The father of the boy added to the “crazy” by standing up and spitting in the woman’s eye. Besides being shockingly uncomfortable, it was…
- a microcosm of a world in conflict
- an important lesson in the cost of impatience and vigilante justice
- a reminder that drama is a useless tool for shutting down drama
“Every atom of hatred we add to the world makes the world more inhospitable.” -Etty Hillesum
What if that father, instead of spitting, had decided to forgive and to find a little understanding for the difficult life he had just encountered? He may not have changed the woman, but he would definitely change his own family’s story from one of hatred to peacemaking under stress.
We could all use a little of that right now.