Category Archives: culture
Bill, sweet man, I just met him. Honest, open, friendly, kind. Shares a bit about himself and his family. Got three kids, “all medical,” he says. “The oldest used to be a doctor, but he quit.” “Says quitting is the best thing he ever did.” “Says, now he gets along with his wife…” Bill shakes his head, “Our health care system, it’s so broken.”
Bill may have said other things after that but I didn’t hear them. Broken: how do we know when something’s broken? It spills out into the rest of our lives. It pours out all over what we love and what we care about.
If the flow is unhealthy, it can extinguish what was once wonderful and pure and beautiful. Like the insidious oil of a punctured tanker, the evidence of the puncture doesn’t come first as a drop in volume, it shows itself in sheen and then surface-floating fish, disabled otters, and struggling seabirds, their feathers coated and useless.
We know brokenness by its damage. The spill. The despoiling. The carnage. The ugliness.
Now, call that ship on its misdeed and it will deny it all day long. It will gird up its loins, even as it goes below deck to patch the leaky spots. Not me. I am strong as they come. I am not responsible for this nastiness. Unavoidable. Not my fault.
Yet, when the ship is righted, the system mended, and the cargo tended to, that tanker sails on its merry way, delivering what it was supposed to, where it was supposed to, to whom it was supposed to. All systems go. Ecosystem maintained.
So many broken systems. So many people plugging holes with all their might. But the spill, it keeps coming. Because we humans are leaky. And feeble. No match for the tanker’s tons. But call us broken and we rail against it, blind to the drippings that puddle at our feet, coat our hands, and threaten to overcome our hearts and our lives.
In our humanity, we are broken, but also fixable. We’re clay, putty in the hands of our Maker. Pulling ourselves from the plug we once were, the spill may keep on, even gush a bit at first, but the evidence of brokenness begins to mend. We get along with the wife, the kids, the neighbors. We are whole again, and filling back up, we may even spill over in generous overflow.
Yes, there are many systems broken in our world today, but I refuse to be an unwitting funnel. It is amazing, just by taking one step out and two steps back, how one can welcome a new solution and a different approach.
Clear-minded and self-controlled, our adjustment does more than mend; it makes.
There are many kinds of poverty.
During the MLB National League Championship Series, I have observed a stark demonstration of poverty: the very impoverished behavior of an exceptional individual. He is talented, capable, skilled and highly paid. But, by the way he plays and the way he behaves, he shows a deep, deep poverty. He is impoverished in character.
The both fortunate and unfortunate thing about character is that it’s consistent. How one speaks, behaves, performs, and responds all tend to point in a single direction. They follow the same course, here, there and everywhere. As I have heard it expressed, “We are the same in every room.”
The both good and bad thing about character is that it is learned. Not necessarily taught, but learned. We learn it from the people, places and opportunities around us. We are shaped by our circumstances, environments, boundaries and consequences. In these, we are guided or we are not. We learn from these. We are shaped by these. For good or not.
If we are well-guided, we are propelled, as far as our talents will take us and beyond this, by our character which carries us. But if we are not well guided, if we get a “pass” on poor behavior or are excused because of “extenuating circumstances” when we are young and formative, then the results are often grim.
I have been watching grim in the NLCS.
Let’s take this All-American opportunity in the celebration of our national past time to address this truth: an excellent rating in the skills portion while dismissing the failing grade earned in spirit of the game is the worst kind of poverty.
If life’s teachers, coaches, mentors, guardians, parents, friends and colleagues issue us a smile and a pass because we’re “gifted,” while it may seem harmless, it may be the greatest of tragedies. For, if life allows us to get a failing grade in relationships, we fail at life. Because, in the end, it’s all we have. Or we don’t.
There are many kinds of poverty. There are many who are in need. Who missed Manny?
Dear Christine Blasey Ford,
I believe you.
For the same reason Bible scholars offer to believe the first disciples, witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. Though they could not produce physical evidence other than their first-person testimony (which varied from evangelist to evangelist) and could not provide tangible proof for investigating authorities. No, they are to be believed because no one would lie about something that cost them so much. Nearly all of them died brutal deaths for the testimony they refused to recant. “We have seen the Lord; He is risen.” (See John 20:18, Matthew 28:6)
The testimony you have given has cost you dearly. May it bring you closure and peace.
Dear Brett Kavanaugh,
I am sorry.
Our young lives should not direct the course of our whole lives. When we do things we may regret later, encumbered by still-developing minds, bodies and souls, should we have to answer for these? I’m not sure. But I know this: denying them is deadly. Womankind is now being encouraged to be vulnerable, to share, to face our fears, and we are. (Thank you, Brene Brown.) This is bringing us health and strength and stature. But mankind is trailing behind. Vulnerability, honesty, and sharing are something men — especially men in powerful positions — still avoid if they want to continue their pursuit of wealth, power and worldly success.
I wish, for your sake, that you didn’t have to wipe this incident from your memory. That you didn’t have to find reasons why political foes would put someone up to saying this about you. That you didn’t need to save face by glossing over facts and inventing new truths. I wish you could look back on your life, face up to all that’s happened and live out of its lessons. For we are all meant to. I wish, for your sake, there was a Brene Brown for men.
Then, you could look at Christine Blasey Ford and apologize for the hurt you caused, the harm you may not have been aware of, and then you could share how you have allowed the incidents of your life to shape you. In-form you. Make you a wiser you. And we could believe you and hope that you would bring this maturity of self and clarity of character to our Supreme Court.
I wish our world was a better place for men, as it is fast becoming a better place for women. Unfortunately, in our current circumstance, now one question remains. If a sexual harassment indictment is brought against a Supreme Court Justice, can he (or she) be removed from a lifetime appointment?
A Concerned Citizen