Life Isn’t Fair

The world is full of problems and some people seem to get more than their fair share. Some children enter the world far more disadvantaged than others. Many are born with life threatening and disfiguring illnesses – that adversely affect them for life.  Others are born into war-torn countries; others into abject poverty. Some are raised in abusive homes and are neglected by their parents.

No one has control over the circumstances of his or her birth or over his or her DNA. Because of genetics some are prone to develop serious chronic and or deadly diseases.  Even the wealthy and powerful are not immune to suffering.

It never fails to amaze me how well adjusted some of the most afflicted and, often, marginalized people appear. They are acutely aware of their disadvantages and the challenges of their lives, as much as anyone can be without being clairvoyant.  Yet, somehow they learn to appreciate and enjoy the simple things in life. They are happy to earn a living and to live in peace. They rejoice over the smallest accomplishments.

Those with the most to complain about seem to complain the least. They are often criticized, ostracized, and treated unfairly in other ways because of things over which they have no control. But the most afflicted tend not to see themselves as victims to whom the world owes a great debt. They don’t wear their disadvantages on their sleeves demanding attention from others. To the contrary, they don’t want to stand out or be noticed. Therefore, they try to blend in. They want the freedom to live like everyone else.

Such people seem to take the burdens that life has handed them into stride. For them, each accomplishment is appreciated and none are taken for granted. Every kind act and word is cherished and they take advantage of every opportunity they are granted.  They don’t wallow in self-pity, perhaps they simply don’t have the time to do so because they are busy living instead of complaining.  They tend not to be easily offended. They are quick to forgive, laugh easily and heartily and they possess an almost enviable appreciation for the deeper things of life.

No life isn’t fair! But some, despite their obvious multiple disadvantages, seem to have figured out how to love themselves and to be at peace with the burdens cast upon them. Somehow they figured out how to ride life instead of letting life ride them. They tend to view life as an adventure with a definite beginning and end (even though they don’t know where or how the end will come).

Anticipation, contentment, focus, perseverance, and possessing the discipline needed to overcome personal challenges are some of the rewards those most afflicted seem to experience more often than others.    

The most disadvantaged among us often illustrate through their accomplishments and attitudes the truism: despite inequities life offers many rewards and overcoming means putting mind over matter.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown, the right man at the right time in the right position

Late Thursday evening, July 7, 2016, I returned home and learned about the police shooting deaths of two African American men- Philando Castile, (killed in a St. Paul, Minnesota suburb) and Alton Sterling (killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana).   For the five days leading up to Thursday I had not listened to radio, or television, nor had I accessed the Internet.  So on Thursday evening I was saddened and shocked after turning on my television and learning about the tragic killings of Castile and Sterling.

Reeling from the news of the two men’s deaths I searched for information about the killings.  I wanted to understand the circumstances that led up to the tragic loss of their lives. I was particularly burdened by the fact that Castile’s four-year-old daughter had witnessed her father being shot and subsequently watched him die. That fact alone, was mind boggling and shocking. I wondered how in the world a 4-year-old is supposed to process and recover from such a life altering experience, something that would be difficult for most adults to do.

When I awakened Friday morning, I was confronted with the awful news reports that Dallas police officers had been ambushed in a coordinated attack by at least two snipers using high-powered rifles. (That part of the report was later proven incorrect.) The reports went on to say that five of the 12 officers shot by the snipers had died. I was stunned and saddened by the news.

Upon hearing the news, I wanted to stay in bed and entertain myself by watching a good movie or engaging in deep theological though by preparing for an upcoming sermon. I wanted the privilege of incubating myself by denying and ignoring the awful reality that had invaded my world. But I didn’t do any of those things. Instead, I pondered questions about the events to which I didn’t know the answers.

Later in the day, sometime before the identity of the lone sniper was revealed, I listened to a news conference during which Dallas Police Chief David Brown spoke. Two things about the police chief’s remarks struck a chord with me. First, he seemed genuine. He didn’t seem at all like a Black person white people put out in front to calm and oversee other blacks.  His words, “We’re [police officers] hurting,” rang true. His tone was measured and calm. Chief Brown spoke with authority when he described how the sniper was killed by a robot. He seemed respectful of and sensitive to the great task he had been given, to speak on behalf of the police force while respecting the citizens’ rights the police are paid to protect. Chief Brown reminded us that ALL LIVES, including those of police officers, MATTER. The chief did not call for peaceful protests to stop nor did he denigrate or taunt the innocent protesters calling for justice.

Chief Brown was the voice of reason at the appropriate time. His comments reminded me of the biblical principle emphasized by Reuben P. Job, “…Do good and do no harm.”  Chief Brown is the right person for the position he is in at this time in history. His response to the tragedy proves that.  

My hope is that the Chief will not bow to the pressure to change his tactics. He is on the right road headed in the right direction.

God help America and God help Chief David Brown!