We are now in what is most probably one of the most important and least religious seasons of the liturgical church calendar, Epiphany. To have an epiphany means to have a realization. In theological terms it refers to the story of three, possibly four, men of great wisdom who traveled from far away destinations to see a newborn baby.
In our usage, epiphany also means realization but it is of a much more personal nature. During this series, I am asking you to look inside and see where your heart is and what speaks to it. Our actions are dependent upon what we truly hold dear, what we feel is most important to us. What makes you act?
American Theologian and writer Robert Schuller once asked “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” It is an interesting question and one often asked of people in discussing their life goals and how to achieve them. I want to implore you to think of it in a different way.
Yesterday I mentioned the four young people being held, now without bond, in the kidnapping and brutal attack on another young person. The victim is mentally developmentally deficient and a classmate of one of his attackers. Another young man and two sisters were the rest of the four who appeared in court yesterday. The judge asked them one simple question: “Where was the sense of decency?”
Many are using this story to highlight the violence in the metropolitan area of Chicago and there can be no denying that violence is at a high and alarming rate. However, Chicago is not the only area facing such crimes. Last week two soldiers were charged with homicide in a drug deal apparently gone wrong, soldiers that are part of the national defense of a country.
This post will not attempt to offer a cure for such crimes but I use them to ask you this. “What would you do if you were on the scene?” Writer Spencer Johnson became published writing a series of children’s books but it is his motivational book “Who Moved My Cheese?” that made him a household name and much-sought on the business circuit. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Witnessing a crime is going to create fear in us and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Fear serves as a protection device many times. I do not touch a hot stove because I fear being burned. Today the wind chill is below zero degrees Fahrenheit and I am not going outside wearing only a swimsuit for fear of hypothermia. That also is not a bad thing. But if I knew I could save another person in the cold and not become ill myself, would I do it? I hope so.
“If you listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been.” This quote from Robert Schuller offers us great advice as long as we use it wisely. Getting help when you witness a crime is paramount. The thousands who viewed the young man being attacked during the live video stream on Facebook from these four people did nothing. They could have contacted Facebook or local authorities. Someone could have simply called the emergency 911 number and reported the streaming video.
There is also a course of action open to us. How we respond is the key to who we are. How we act tells everything about our character and what is most important to us. There is an old Chinese proverb that states “Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.”
Maybe you are thinking right now of a time in which you should have acted but did not. We all have those. The important thing is to recognize them and make commitment to yourself to not let them be that last actions you ever do. As Robert Schuller advises, “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” Today act, not react.