A Culture of Extremes

ChicagoCityNo, this isn’t a post about the song “More Than Words.” Although, that might be fun.

If I did write about it, I would definitely reference the Jimmy Fallon & Jack Black version of the song.

Okay, I digress.

Listen, I’ll be the first to admit my naïveté. I’m sure I don’t get every side of an issue, and we certainly live in a world of nuances.

That being said, it’s been interesting to watch our recent news cycles over the last couple of weeks.

Last week, a lot of people freaked out over a couple of videos showing Planned Parenthood staffers discussing the sale of embryonic tissue. It turned out that the videos were gathered somewhat dishonestly and edited in really dishonest ways. And the selling wasn’t even technically illegal or done for financial gain…it’s actually legally allowable for research.

But at the end of the day, people were still pretty incredulous about the cavalier discussion of ending a life and selling off the parts. I understand, because I’m one of those people. Heck, even Hillary Clinton called the videos “disturbing.”

And then this week, a whole new group of people have lost their minds over a dentist who lured a lion out of its protected area and killed it.

Now, I understand…anyone who has linked these two news stories has been absolutely skewered. Just ask Marco Rubio. So I’m walking in dangerous territory here.

However, the reaction on both sides has been somewhat interesting for me to observe. One group goes nuts over what they believe to be the senseless killing of a life. Another group believes it’s just about choice and medical research. Then the group that believed science is science when it came to human life has gone crazy when an animal was unfairly harmed. While the group who so ardently defended human life doesn’t seem to care about other life in God’s creation.

Hmmmmmmm.

Again, I’m sure life is easier through my simple, naive lenses…but what if we were just about life? Like…we cared about life WHEREVER we found it. And we came to the defense of life.

What if we fought to protect babies? And what if black lives mattered? And what if cop lives mattered?

And what if we asked some tough questions about the death penalty in the hopes that hearts actually could change over time? And what if we thought long and hard about military efforts around the world to try to preserve as much innocent human life as possible?

And what if we cared passionately about education, because it means more life tomorrow?

I know every issue is multi-faceted. And we won’t save the world through a few opinionated blogs.

But if I’m going to be accused of getting it wrong…I wanna get it wrong in my quest to defend life.

[Oh, and if you’re beyond stressed about all of these issues, and you just need 5 minutes to breathe and chuckle in the midst of all of the craziness, be sure to enjoy this fun little satire post.]

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The older I get, the fewer things I find I’m absolutely sure of…but the more things I’m open to conversation about

I remember 1992 quite well.Chicago Dusk

Getting up every Saturday in time to catch “Saved By The Bell” and “Inside Stuff.”

The belief that the Bulls might be just good enough to win a second championship IN A ROW.

Knowing the world was my oyster each day that I went to school in my B.U.M. equipment sweatshirt and Guess jeans.

Okay, anyway…

My mom was also a newlywed, and my step-dad was about to begin a slow dismantling of the black and white world in which I grew up.

That was the year of a presidential election. George H.W. Bush (of course, back then, he was just George Bush) was running for reelection against Ross Perot and this young guy who played saxophone on late night TV, Bill Clinton.

[incidentally, although Ross Perot didn’t win…and probably stole the election from George Bush by splitting the conservative vote…he is basically the reason you and I talk about the National Debt nowadays, which is a cool legacy]

Anyway, I grew up in this world where Christians were Republicans and, at best, Democrats were misguided sinners.

So I was in absolute shock when I had political conversations with my step-dad, and he wasn’t positive whom he was going to vote for.

I kept saying “abortion, abortion, abortion” and one day he said a line that has stuck with me for 23 years, “Well Jason, I guess for me this is more than just a one-issue election.”

Wow…I chewed on that for years to come. Actually, I still am.

I even said that same thing to a very nice lady a couple of years ago…a lady who went on to call me a “flaming liberal” even though I tried to explain to her that I’ve voted for the Republican candidate in all 4 of the presidential elections that have passed since I turned 18.

Last week I took some grief for reposting an article by Matthew Paul Turner called, “I don’t know when life begins. But I know it begins…”

I really think it was a real fair and nuanced treatment of all the recent hubbub over the Planned Parenthood video.

Wherever you land on the issues and however you think through them and whatever you discuss with others, I know that with each passing day, one thing becomes more and more true in my life:

The older I get, the fewer things I find I’m absolutely sure of…but the more things I’m open to conversation about.

How about you? Have you had a conversation today? You know the kind where you listen at least as much as you speak?

You really should. You might learn something.

And it’s totally worth it, even if all you learn is that your world isn’t quite as small as you previously thought.

Character Is Not Made In One Big Moment

We’ve all said it at some point, right?

“That single moment defined him as a person…”

“No one knew she had it in her until that one day…”

But the truth is that somewhere deep down, we all know those are really sweet and kind and romanticized lies.

They’re like the “wait 30 minutes before swimming” rule of character development.

Character is not made in one big moment; it is revealed.

If you push someone out of the way of a train and die in the process…

If you refuse to give up in an unrelenting fight with cancer…

If you remain faithful in a tough marriage, praying that God will soften hearts…

One moment didn’t make you who you are; one thousand moments formed you over time.

If you die in an act of heroism, we won’t say at your funeral that that one event made you who you were. We will share memories from your whole life that reveal you were just that great all along the way.

You don’t have to wait to be awesome tomorrow by saving a bunch of kids from a burning orphanage.

You can be awesome today by making a handful of decisions to be a person of integrity.

And maybe the little decisions of refusing to fail today will prepare you for a big moment in which you succeed tomorrow.

2 > 2,000

You wanna change the world. I wanna change the world.

As the great poets in Tears For Fears once taught us, “Everybody Wants To Change The World”…or maybe it was rule the world…I can’t remember. Anyway.

Most of us live on a quest to make a difference. To do something special. To be significant.

So let’s fast forward and think about the implications.

Let’s say you live on fire. You’re pumped about your faith, and people know about it. And not in any weird or off-putting ways.

You make a huge difference. You never miss out on an opportunity. You’re always there when someone needs you.

And sure, there’s that nagging voice telling you that you could be home more often…that you’re neglecting some things, but you’re taking your faith seriously, and it’s making a difference. So you press on.

Let’s even say that you die, go to Heaven, and get to stand at the gates and watch people walk in. And on that day, a full 2,000 people stop on their way into Heaven and thank you. One by one, they tell you that you’re the reason they’re there. YOU made all the difference for them.

But on that day, the 2 kids God entrusted to your care, the ones who grew up in your house, they’re nowhere to be found.

You see, your passion to make a difference everywhere in the world kept you from being the best you could be at home.

You change eternity for 2,000 but miss 2 along the way.

I don’t think that works out in God’s math. I don’t think He’d be pleased.

I don’t think there’s a number high enough to make up for failure at home.

Wetherholt-ScienceAndIndustry

Change the world. Be awesome. Do something significant.

Just remember that it all begins at home.

[and for extra-special-super-cool bonus points…what if you just took the family WITH on your quest to change the world…you might find that you alter eternal destinies for BOTH the 2 AND the 2,000…]