Saturday, June 2, 2012

Who Would You Die For?

Affirmation: I recognize and fully appreciate who and what are important to me in my life.

The story was about Greg Gadson, a lieutenant colonel with the Second Battalion and 32nd Field Artillery.   He was stationed in Bagdad when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb.  He remembers being placed on a stretcher with his severed feet in his lap.  The next time he was conscious both his legs had been amputated above the knees.  The picture in the paper showed a broad shouldered strong looking man with shorts on and two artificial legs.  The story went on to say that he had recently been given a role in the movie Battleship.  His inspirational journey to healing had brought him fame.  But, his journey wasn't just focused on himself; he had a message, a mission statement that he had developed through his challenge back to wholeness and he was sharing it with other service members.  His message is, "Whenever you have a formidable task, instead of looking up, look down.  Literally take it one step at a time.  You'll be overwhelmed by the broader view." I was inspired but I was also surprised by this statement.  It seemed to me that he would be very hesitant to look down.  The article went on to say that this amazing man didn't show one ounce of self pity.  Wow!

I've often wondered how I would respond, who I would be in times of great challenge.  I've always wanted to believe I'd be a heroine, that I would act honorably and bravely.  Certainly, I've had challenges in my life and mostly I've responded with courage and integrity but when I read stories about people like Greg Gadson, I do find myself wondering "what if that happened to me?" There are so many tales of amazing people who have made extraordinary efforts to help others at great cost to themselves, for some it has cost them their lives.  These people are not all past heroes, there are many with us today.  There is so much to be learned from them.

In my Small Christian Community we often discuss the great sacrifice made by Jesus Christ to lead us to a different, broader, more loving perception of God the Father.  Often, the question arises "Who would you die for?" And, I find myself thinking about all our soldiers who have given their lives for us, in most cases for total strangers.

My oldest daughter is an amazing mother.  She's exceptionally young looking.  She's always looked much younger than her years. (I like to think she got that quality from me!)  She was engaged when she was in her early 20's.  One day we went to the local department store to shop for a few wedding accessories.  The saleswoman was shocked when we told her we were there for my daughter's wedding.  She said to my daughter in an indignant tone, "How old are you?" I smiled because I knew she was going to be amazed by the answer, in fact I'm not sure she believed us.  The reason I'm sharing this story is because when my grand-daughter started school, the teacher took a very superior attitude towards my daughter.  She really thought she was a child raising a child but my daughter was older than she realized and much much wiser than she ever imagined.  When it comes to her children, my daughter is like a mother bear.  You do not want to mess with her and I'm really proud of her for that.  Not that she dismisses the concerns of the teachers but she carefully examines their reactions to her children and demands a nonpartisan, professional attitude from them, as she should.  I mention this because most mothers will do whatever it takes to protect their children.

I took a one night self defense class many years ago and was instructed to "bite the nose off" of my attacker.  All the women in the class moaned in disgust.  Then the instructor said "Make believe he's attacking your daughter." The entire atmosphere then changed.  There was not one woman there who wasn't ready to do whatever it took to make sure their child was safe.  I've never watched Sophie's Choice.  I know the premise of the story was she had to choose which of her children would live and who would die.  I can't even imagine such a situation and I don't want to watch someone have to make such a decision but many people are faced with impossible decisions many of which I hope I'm never faced with.

The question not only revolves around "who?" but "what?". "What would you die for?" "What do you hold so precious that you would give up your life?"  The young men and women who serve in our armed forces hold our way of life here in America so precious that they are willing to die for it.  I don't fully agree with all of the wars America has chosen to participate in.  I'm not sure how I would have responded to being drafted to fight in Vietnam.  It was one more decision I wasn't faced with.  But, we have lost so many young, very young, men and women to so many conflicts.  It's heartbreaking.

I was sitting in a waiting room at UNC hospital one day when a young man in uniform walked in.  I watched in awe and with a sense of shame as one of the other women who was also waiting, got up and went over to the soldier and simply said "thank you." Thank  you!  I found it to be such a powerful gesture.  I haven't let a soldier pass me by since then without stopping them and saying "thank you."

What is the message here?  All of us have something or someone we are willing to die for.  And, all of us have something or someone we are willing to lived for.  It's important to know, to take the time to recognize what's important to you.  It's nice to have the luxury of not being in a horrible situation before you find out what or who they are.  Think about it and maybe you'll be able to fully recognize and appreciate who and what are of the greatest importance in your life and be grateful while you still have the time to say "thank you."

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