Hey Guys! It’s Dad.
You know the very high standard of behavior that I expect from you guys, and you rise to that standard every day. Your actions embody these two simple ideas: Be Gentlemen, and Be Humble.
I know that sometimes it isn’t easy, but you’re doing a fantastic job, especially under the circumstances. That said, if I had to add a third behavior to the list it would be this…
Recently we learned of a tragedy that ended with a young girl taking her own life. My understanding is that she was being relentlessly bullied and she just couldn’t cope with the pain anymore. I could see how hard that was on Michael. Buddy, I know that this touched you in a powerful way. It should. When I watched those tears well up in your eyes and you gave me a long hug, I saw another piece of innocence being washed from your big, beautiful heart. I’m so sorry.
The thought of anyone, much less a child, enduring so much emotional pain for so long completely breaks my heart. That heartache inspired me to write this post.
There’s a commonly used quote; a cliché really, with a bit of a “tough-guy” mentality, that I believe is both misunderstood and misused when it comes to dealing with difficult and challenging times.
“Fight fire with fire!”
It pretty much means that if someone shoves you…shove ’em back..but harder! If someone hurts your feelings…hurt ‘em back more! If someone hates you…hate ’em even more.
The truth is though, at least as I’ve experienced it in my life, this is usually the wrong response to any kind challenging situation. In fact, it’s pretty much always the wrong response.
Think about that phrase for a moment. “Fight fire with fire!” Granted, in an action film, it sure sounds tough, but think again! If there’s a fire…and you add more fire, it just makes…a bigger fire. If folks are being violent, it just introduces more violence. If people are talking trash…it’s creates…more trash!
It might sound kind of funny at first, but I prefer to say, “Fight fire with water!” Now doesn’t that make more sense?
About 20 years ago the world lost a truly beautiful woman. No, I don’t mean with pretty eyes and soft skin. I mean a beautiful human being. Her name was Mother Theresa. She did amazing things; peaceful things for all of mankind. In fact she won the Nobel Peace Prize and was formally recognized by the church as a saint; a real saint! Well I recently learned something absolutely fascinating about her. It’s so simple, yet so profound.
In all of her efforts to bring peace into war-torn areas of the world, not once did Mother Teresa attend an anti-war rally. Not once! Why not? Because the focused was on war. She thought, “How can you stop war when you’re focusing on war?” Instead, this saint of a lady spoke at countless peace rallies. She focused her time and efforts on promoting peace…not ending war. That might seem like a trivial difference, but it is a powerful example of the point that I hope you guys take away from this message.
The point is simply this: We don’t need to fight to win a war. We can do the opposite of fight, which is to love. We can be the water to the fire.
Jesus once said, “…love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” He didn’t say that this would be easy. I wish he did. But he said that this is the way, the way to peaceful living.
I shared with you earlier this week how Lance Armstrong, that Tour de France guy, lied and cheated and threatened and manipulated thousands of people throughout his career, just so he could win. But, as they always do, his lies caught up with him a few years ago, and when they did, literally hundreds of millions of people hated him. imagine that: hundreds of millions of people! They absolutely despised him. People threatened him and his family. People bullied his kids. People had so much rage and pain. Even many years later people still held onto that hatred and pain.
Not long ago, while Armstrong was waiting for a taxi near a brew-pub in Colorado, a group of people at a restaurant started screamed horrible things at him; vile, horrible things. He didn’t know them and they didn’t know him, but they just kept screaming at him.
Lance’s reaction could have been to return to his old ways of threats and violence and power and manipulation. But what he actually did was amazing and inspiring. He didn’t get angry or violent. He didn’t fighting fire with fire. Instead, as the taxi drove away, he called the restaurant manager on the phone and told the manager what happened. As the manager was apologizing for the behavior of the restaurant’s guests, Lance interrupted. He gave the manager his credit card number and said, “I’d like to pay for all of their food and drinks. All of them. So please go pay their bills. Then…tell them that I love them.”
Over the past several years Lance could have heard the cries and criticisms of thousands of hurting and angry people and just held onto ’em. He could have let them bring him down, to a dark, dark place. But he searched for answer and for guidance and for growth and he fought through.
We will never know how the angry crowd at the brew-pub felt after Lance’s kind and loving gesture, but I’d be willing to bet that at least one…if not all of them grew up a little bit that day. We’ll never know for sure, but what I do know is how much better Lance felt by offering love and support in stead of anger and violence. He chose to fight fire with water. He fought pain and anger with love…and this time…he realy won.
I wish that I could tell you that the world is great, and that people are kind, but I can’t. You’re going to feel the sting of the jagged words of hurtful, hurt-full people. What I did feel compelled to do though, is to make sure that you know that you’ll be fine.
I encourage you to be willing to pause in the moment…take a breath, then fight fire with water, fight violence with peace, and fight hate with love. It works guys. I promise.
Be Gentlemen. Be Humble. Be Loving.
I love you,