Category Archives: culture
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
The gruesome experience “informed” his art.
The break-in and near death experience, “informed” his life’s course.
The death of her mother by suicide “informed” her field of study.
The assault she survived “informed” her very life.
What happens in our lives in-forms us. What we experience forms us, on the inside.
We say we live in an information age. But… TMI. Overwhelmed. Can’t take it all in. Are we convinced that the more we know, the better off we are? How much do we really know after all we have read? Binge reading that which is designed to catch our eye — the moving target or the sensational headline — is not informing. That’s gorging. Over-consumption. Gluttony.
We can choose to stop and ask:
What has in-formed us? What moment? What word? What person? What experience? These have shaped our perception, our point of view, and our understanding.
What is now in-forming us? What are we allowing in to form our perception, point of view and understanding.
Christine Blasey Ford’s life has been in-formed by her “incident” with Brett Kavanaugh. Not only has she survived it, but she is living out of it. She has addressed the event and its circumstance and called it out. She has let it in-form her, so she can let it inform us. To speak publicly, in such an open forum, about such a traumatic and emotional experience is nothing short of miraculous. Yet, she has denied the experience its opportunity to torment her. Instead, she has turned the tables on it. She is leading our charge.
Forewarned may feel forearmed, and informed may feel like arming, but this is a different battle we’re waging, against an enemy we can’t see who employs weapons we can’t wield. We are being prepared for this battle by One who knows us intimately and is ever-transforming us. One who is constantly shaping, healing, and molding, sculpting, renewing and re-building with gracious, loving hands. With our consent.
Love doesn’t, love never, forces its way in.
Is it possible that all our experiences are redeemable, even when they’re too horrible to imagine or too painful to admit? Give them to me, God says. We can hold them together and make something magnificent. I am love. With me, all things are possible.
What in-forms you?
What is shaping you?
From the inside out?