Unexpected bug leads to daytime T.V.

“I don’t think situations create heroes. I think situations reveal who people are.” – Dr. Phil

Last week, after driving home from Minnesota and leaving our extended family, I came down with a severe case of Bronchitis. I’m not sure if I inherited this from our family from the northern regions, as Deborah and I were already exposed to numerous bugs from school and our home community. But they, too, were in the throes of every imaginable condition related to the bug, each following their own timeline from infection; fever, throwing up, coughing, aches and pains, sweats, fever breaking, flowing mucous, bed rest, medication, etc.

We did delay departure and arrival by four days, as it seemed they were nearing the end. With limited options, one makes the call to go or stay. We made the decision to go.

Nevertheless, “it” finally hit us with a vengeance. Deborah recovered soonest, since she came down with it first. Our upcoming business trip to another state required us to go our separate ways; she made the trip. I stayed home and recuperated.

I rarely watch daytime television. My farm business is my focus when not with family. If it were up to me, networks could simply shut down for much of the day, or restrict broadcasting to newsworthy programs, whatever that might be.

Last week was the exception for personal downtime when little else activity seemed plausible. One day, Dr. Phil’s show highlighted a case of severe child abuse. One cannot imagine the horrors experienced by the young girl. No description can justify it, nor would I even want to.

As the show progressed, the character of every person connected to this tragic event came to light, of heroes and villains alike. Dr. Phil’s comment highlighted at the top of this column summarized the one truth gleaned from the tragedy.

Circumstances do not instantly create wholesome family oriented values which magically result in a heroic act. The values are already present, placed there by parents, mentors and society as children grow up. These circumstances are merely the vehicle which reveals them through expressions, motivating the individual to act.

And, conversely, distasteful and repulsive deeds initiated by an individual, also reveals that person’s ultimate character. Such is the sad state which we live in, today.

But wait, there’s more

Social media is full of glaring and notable examples where the true character of an individual is on display. In the land of free speech, there are few constraints which caution and restrict the writer of posts in the “Twitter-sphere” or “Facebook land.” Only the most egregious comments face scrutiny or deletion.

Of all social media outlets, LinkedIn may be the least offensive media, due to the easily integrated nature within the business environment which monitors the activities of employees and business associates.

Some folks really do not care, however. One PhD candidate from another state begins her rant in social media, to provoke visceral responses, either for or against. Rational discourse and enlightenment is not the objective. Winning and building an affirming “echo chamber” among one’s fan base is. Destroying anyone who even dares to ask an appropriate and respectful question is the objective as well. A person’s true character quickly emerges from the ashes of the fray.

What is the solution?

Marco Rubio, current Republican Senator from Florida, has taken to the Twitter-sphere, posting scripture. One of his latest, Rubio quotes Exodus 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” His detractors, however, question his honesty concerning political issues dating back through the last ten years. Somewhere, between those two extremes, lies the truth, no pun intended.

Recognizing all of humanity is fallible and undeniably broken, we must first put our house in order. No human is sinless.

Years ago, Evangelist Billy Graham, was asked how often he repented of sinful behavior. “Every day,” he said. It is good advice. Keeping short accounts helps us to recognize how frail our humanity truly is. And as we focus on our relationship to God, as we realize we deserve his wrath even more so than we think we deserve, we focus less on the hurts perpetrated by others, and extend the same mercy and grace to them.

Finally, one more note of encouraging instruction; we must teach our children the fruits of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…..”

What they learn from birth through the early years will instill within them the worth of their character, so when situations arise, they will arise and live as God intended for them.