Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Whatever happened to please and thank you!

It’s amazing how you can have an incredible day and have a bright outlook on the world until someone ruins your day by being rude, uncaring and a jerk. So what do you allow to control your emotions? The ten great things that happen in a day or the one thing that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Unfortunately for me I too often allow the one bad thing to overshadow the rest of my great day and the one who suffers most is my awesome wife.

I’m becoming quicker to respond to those that are rude and crude, not by attacking them but by choosing to ‘love on’ the victims of those who don’t get the importance of being thankful and expressing appreciation.  I was picking up a couple of $5 pepperoni pizzas for some little friends when I hear this customer before me DEMAND more pepper packets for his $5 pizza. I could tell as I looked at the cashier that she was taken back and was at a loss for words. So as she placed more packets into his pizza box his response wasn’t thank you but a stern look and a trite response, ‘it took you long enough!’

I had to ‘bite my tongue’ not to say something that could have erupted into a verbal match which I would have lost eventually. So instead I looked at this teen and told her a big thanks for her customer service skills. She chuckled a little as I tried to see if she was on the verge of tears. I could see how someone in her situation could have a series rude customers that would not just ruin her work day but make her feel less than human.

I know that the world at present seems on the edge of collapse as we seem to be daily confronted with the aftermath of real hatred, racism and a retaliation mindset. Most would baulk at the solution being to show kindness in return for evil? The present political scenery would seem to give the impression that the only way to overcome evil, rudeness and crudeness is by dishing out more of the same but in double doses.  So maybe I should have lashed out at the jerk that made a life or death situation out of a couple of pepper packets?

We make the daily choice as to how we respond to the circumstances around us. It’s truly tragic that social media highlights the unfortunate acts of evil to an extreme and the true heroes of our society go unnoticed and sadly their great examples are seldom noticed. Imagine what would happen if social media stopped spreading rumors, lies and gossip but instead chose to only talk and promote those that pursue the path of righteousness, grace and mercy?

Yes, today is a new day filled with great potential for great acts to rise to the top and the evil to be drowned out by the voices that are quick to say please and thank you!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Is having fun the defining factor in life?

The challenge for most of us that live in middle class America or even in low-income setting is that the rest of the world experiences ongoing hardship that is far beyond what we can fathom! The purpose in writing is to push myself and others to understand that complaining about an order that was messed up at Starbucks isn’t the proverbial end of the world. Also being a few minutes late doesn’t have to ruin anyone’s day, yet every day I see so many road rage incidences that it’s scary when most of the world goes to bed hungry at night concerned about shelter and food for tomorrow.  

Just as we think the world has calmed back down and life is in the normal setting another terrorist attack happens or a racially charged incident happens. What’s really important in life? Is it really getting that extra shot in your morning brew, getting that promotion, finding that perfect deal on Amazon or what? This last week as we were driving to the main homeless area to hand out cold water in Phoenix there was an area blocked off with yellow tape and a parked police cruiser.  It became clear as we drove by that someone had just died. There wasn’t any news vehicle with a reporter doing a newscast for the evening news but just a van from the coroner’s office. Sadly, too often life is valued less in today’s world as we become numb to the ongoing violence that happens and then is sent across the world via social media instantly.

What has to happen for everyone to see that life is more than getting what you think is your right or actually showing kindness when it isn’t convenient or forgiving someone that doesn’t deserve it? Is world peace or peace in your neighborhood ever a real possibility? Listened last night to the police chief in Phoenix talk about the tension between looking for a serial killer vs. talking to an activist who has planned the next protest over police brutality and racial strife in our city. The challenge was that the week before there was a protest that turned crazy that required extra officer time that takes away from finding a killer at large. Yes, everyone has rights but is it possible to work together for the common good, make concessions and put aside our differences?

The world was stunned as this large truck plowed through the crowd in Nices France during their Bastille Day Celebrations killing over 80 individuals including kids.  It would almost seem as if life has been put on hold when it comes to normal everyday activities, especially world travel and the fear that your special trip could end up on the evening news. Yes, as I sit at my Starbucks writing this post I’m convicted to think less of my WANTS and consider the real needs of others who are struggling in life including the homeless lady who is sitting out front of the Starbucks.  I chuckle when I think of the sign over the freeway reacting to the latest craze to take our minds off of the world tragedies, ‘Don’t play Pok√©mon Go while driving!’

Imagine what the world would be like if the following mindset was at the forefront of everyone? If you wanted to be first then be willing to be last and if you wanted to be great in this life then choose to be a servant? So what defines your life; being served or being a servant?

I am HUMAN – a response to the tragedies of the last week.

I’ve read a plethora of posts and articles online that attempt to address the ongoing issue with mankind when it comes to racism, hatred, mistrust, fear and the inability of not allowing our differences to become a motive for doing evil to one another. The voices that ring out in my mind today don’t come from a journalist, police chief or pastor but a kid and a teen! Yes, it’s possible to learn from one another if we choose to have an open mind and ears to listen.

It was during an art class that this precious little 6 year-old gal, Joi, drew a simple picture that has helped me cope. Joi very quickly drew a rainbow on one side of a paper and then on the other side a hand with 5 fingers hitting another hand. We had asked a few of the kids and teens to share their stories through art. Little Joi quickly volunteered to share her story and simply said that when she is sad she thinks of a rainbow and what it represents to her. When she is happy and life is going well she thinks of doing a high five to express her joy!

Just as powerful during our art presentations was that of a 14 year-old who has experienced prejudice, hatred and racism. She drew a picture of herself and a few of the names that she has been called, nigger, monkey, slave….. and on the bottom of her picture states ‘I am HUMAN!’ Those of us in the room were overwhelmed at the powerful expression our Carly had made about the present plight of many. I was left speechless and hurt that I had contributed a little to her sense of being less than human because of my personal biases, practices or unwillingness to speak out more.

As I read an article about the Dallas Police Chief who personally had experienced the loss of a son, brother and close working associate through violence that I could hear his plea.  His cry to his fellow humans is to transcend race, politics, religion and see the opportunity to learn from the unfortunate tragedies that shouldn’t have happened. A clear cry that violence never solves anything and that for many the numbness of the last week won’t go away too soon. 

Yet, there is hope that tomorrow can be better if I’m willing to look into my own heart and deal with my own feelings that either lead to saying something I’ll regret or being slower to react and instead learn from the voices of the kids around me. Today I’ll picture the image of a rainbow after the rains have come and freshness of the air while my little friend high 5’s me!