Monitor or Guard?

Monitor or Guard?

Lent 37


When it comes to our self-control or self-discipline, which are we – monitor or guard?  There is a popular television commercial that sets the scene in a bank.  Suddenly two bank robbers appear and order everyone to the floor.  Two customers are seen lying prone on the floor when one looks up at a uniformed gentleman standing by a customer desk.  “Aren’t you going to do anything?” the customer queries.  “Oh, I’m just a monitor” is the response.  “I just give alerts; I am not a guard.” 


When it comes to our own habits and those that are not particularly healthy or productive, which are we – monitors or guards?  After all, one seldom needs to tell an obese person that they are overweight.  Neither does one need to point out to someone who has just slipped that they did in fact fall down.  And yet, all too often that is just what we do.


Most of us know that if we smoke, we are harming our lungs, circulatory system, and heart.  Diabetics know that should refuse that piece of pie, especially if it follows a fast food meal of burgers and fries.  An alcoholic knows that going to a cocktail party might just be a recipe for disaster if they have not taken measures to forego having only alcoholic beverages available. 


Still…the rate of diabetes continues to rise and while some statistics show a decrease in the number of people smoking, teenagers and young adults are still taking on this habit and older adults are not taking steps to stop smoking.  The number of people killed in alcohol-related incidents continues to be greater than those killed by violence or AIDS worldwide.  Over eighty-six percent of all people under the age of thirty admit to “being drunk”.


When it comes to developing self-discipline we must be truthfully and brutally honest with ourselves.  Are we simply monitoring our habits or are we really making an effort to guard against those which can harm, injure, or kill us. 


In a report released today, research published in the American Journal of Public Health by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows that states with laws requiring drivers who have been convicted of drunk driving to pass a breathalyzer-type test before starting their cars saved an estimated 915 lives between 2007 and 2013. The findings represent a 15 percent reduction in alcohol influenced, driving-related deaths compared to states without legislation requiring DUI offenders to use “mandatory ignition interlock.”


If such preventions are possible, then why are we not using them?  Many feel such devices infringe on their personal freedoms.  Much like the pro-gun lobby, they claim they have personal rights to possess deadly agents of harm.  I do not want to debate today the issue of such rights.  What I do want to discuss is your right to live, and that same right that everyone else has.  Living tied to an oxygen tank or dependent on insulin is an impaired lifestyle.  There are enough chances to be hurt forever that we really do not need to make things more difficult for ourselves by drinking or eating to excess.  When that happens, not just the impaired person in affected; so are their families.


If I had a garden and in watering that garden, I deprived everyone else on my block their water, people would be in an uproar.  I do not have any personal privilege to something like water or staying alive that others do not also share.  We are in this thing called living together.


Together we create the world in which we live.  Together we must not only be honest monitors, aware of our actions and honestly owning them but we also must be on guard against those habits or inherited traits that can be a pathway to destruction.  A monitor simply notices things.  A guard takes action.  It’s your life.  Which are you going to do – watch it pass by or become engaged in living it?


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