I drive through one of the most violent, dangerous cities in America every morning in my little Scion XA 5 speed automobile. All 4 doors are locked. I’m not particularly afraid. After all, I stop at a local Hess gas station every morning of the work week to purchase a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee — I always use a so called single use paper cup to get a refill and so a small discount on the price. Additionally, I reduce my impact on the environment. (Yes, I could use a plastic cup but I would never wash it and the gunk growing in its bottom might eventually kill me!)
Occasionally, a person will approach me for gas money. And yes, I always give the person something, usually not very much I am sad to say. I call for generosity but find I am not an exceptionally generous person.
As for generosity: a few years ago, in a local paper, I discovered that the firemen in my town make less than 24,000 dollars a year. I was shocked. To me, a fireman is the epitome of the public servant, putting his life on the line for property and for the lives of others. How many people, do you suppose, give money to their local firehouse, either at Christmas or some other time of the year? How many churches, do you suppose, support their local firehouse? or police department? or hospital? or public schools?
I guess what I am getting at — taxes are a necessity. No fireman should make 24,000 dollars a year! for lack of tax revenue.
I watched the Republican candidates last night as they spoke primarily against President Obama and universal healthcare. As most are aware now, as Ron Paul challenged that the government should not be responsible for the care of uninsured individuals, the audience broke out in spontaneous applause. Then Wolf Blitzer asked if an uninsured, previously-healthy 30 year old in a coma should be allowed to die, presumably without healthcare efforts that cost the rest of us tax payer dollars. And several persons in the audience yelled, “Yeah” and nervous laughter rippled through as Ron Paul muttered, “No.”
Mr. Paul must have been appalled at least momentarily. After all, he’s a physician who has taken an oath to protect life not relinquish life to an early grave. Mr. Paul is not calling for society to abandon the uninsured but for society to take care of neighbors, friends, family members — essentially as extensions of society itself.
Am I my brother’s keeper? Jesus says, “You certainly are!”
I watch an HBO documentary, long and emotionally exhausting — one of those films you think, “I shouldn’t be watching this” but you keep on watching it. I begin in the middle. An horrific event has happened: a 36 year old woman named Diane has driven her SUV headlong into another SUV which strikes another SUV, killing 8 persons altogether including Diane and most of the children in the vehicle with her. Lab tests, done twice, show that Diane has consumed at least 10 alcoholic drinks in addition to marijuana. She is on the verge of coma and death. Eyewitnesses say Diane is driving in the fast lane in the wrong direction along a NY turnpike at 70 mph “like a bat out of hell” with no thought of anyone else, completely determined to get wherever it is she is going. Death is her final destination.
A forensic psychiatrist speaks of Diane not being a “bad person.” Instead she is a haunted individual, haunted primarily, it seems, by her inability to ever be out of control. Her family, particularly her husband, is unable to admit that his wife is even capable of being as out of control as she is on this particular day when she kills herself and 7 others, mostly children.
Some of us are unable or unwilling to admit to flaws in our character. We can’t look in the mirror and see that we are human, frail and not actually good at all, in and of ourselves anyway. Our demons remain so private that when they do emerge and we sense that loss of control, we panic. With no option for escape, we find our private demons, in public, are totally overwhelming. Diane must be desperately attempting to drown her demons with painkillers even as she plows headfirst into an oncoming vehicle, her mind trapped in tunnel vision, unable to see any light.
Back in the same city as last week; no outrage on the road yesterday. Today, sitting in a beautiful hotel room on the 18th floor overlooking the city skyline.; there’s not a cloud in the sky, just some haze from cars and trucks. My daughter has walked to the Japanese consulate to take an English test, then a Japanese test, then a little time for lunch, and finally an interview. She is seeking with much anticipation and hope and longing and dread a scholarship so that she may return to Japan next year in order to study film-making in a Tokyo university and gain her dream.
She was speaking to me yesterday in the car of the lack of dreams that children have in Japan. She said that the dreams of her students (she was teaching English in elementary and middle school in Japan) were pretty much confined to: going to high school or home to sleep.
I don’t have any experience teaching in the United States or any other country for that matter, but somehow I’ve got a feeling that many children around the world are also without dreams.
My daughter is blessed — she has a dream. Now, dreams can be crushed but better to have one than not to have one.
Kim’s test is starting right now. May God bless her with the realization of her dream. In Jesus’ Name, amen!
In 1973, I live in Southern Indiana, not more than 45 minutes from the site of the Kentucky Derby. I vaguely recall watching the Derby on television that day — the day Secretariat, the most famous, the greatest racehorse of all time wins the first leg of the Triple Crown. I do not remember my young reaction, whether I cheer or cry or look on with vague misgiving. I say misgiving because I am always fearful for the horse when watching a race.
Today, I watch the film SECRETARIAT and cry. I cry twice — when Big Red wins the Derby and again when he takes the Triple Crown by 31 lengths! And I do pray, “Oh God, to have a heart that big for You!” The soaring emotion I feel here is one I feel occasionally in worship, not usually when lifting my arms during song or even while listening to a pastor tell his sermon; but sometimes when alone — which is difficult to come by in today’s modern, locked church buildings — praying in a pew. The tears stream, and I can’t stop them.
Today, my heart feels like it is bursting in my chest. I want to run that fast for You, O Lord. Oh to be a Secretariat!