I would like to start with a quote from a twelve year old boy named Justin Kievit: "Sometimes winning isn't always the right thing & isn't the most important thing." Justin Kievit spoke these words in an interview that aired on Good Morning America in December of 2012.
Justin was referring to a wrestling match at his middle school in Tennessee in which he was asked to wrestle on the mat with Jared Stevens. Jared is also twelve years old, but Jared has severe cerebral palsy. Justin allowed Jared to pin him to the mat, allowing Jared to win the match.
As one commentator reported, it was a story of courage and character on both of the boys' part. Jared wanted so badly to know what it felt like just to be able to be on the mat like the other boys. Justin was wise beyond his years and had such compassion for his opponent, that he chose to impart to Jared something even greater than Jared's expectations.
Justin's response was not a surprise to those who know him. His coach specifically chose Justin because Jared's coach asked him to be placed with a boy with a big heart...Justin immediately came to his coach's mind. That decision set the wheels in motion for what took place between the boys.
I share this story to illustrate the fact that our capacity to show compassion and dignity to others is a reflection of who we are as human beings.When I began writing this post, the events that took place in Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary had not yet occurred. Afterward, there seemed such a contrast in behavior that I felt led to explore it.
These two stories carry such stark contrasts in behavior that they elicit more questions than answers, or so it seems. Such as, what state of mind would a person have to be in to commit such horrific acts that took place on December 14, 2012 inside Sandy Hook Elementary? How can a person be so detached from any feeling at all toward another human being, much less the most vulnerable and innocent of all? These are the questions that haunt me.
Man's inhumanity toward man is nothing new. The danger is, and in my opinion, has always been, when society ceases to have empathy toward one another. Justin Kievit had compassion toward Jared Stevens because he was able to empathize with Jared's struggle of living with the disease of cerebral palsy. In the absence of empathy comes the absence of compassion.
Justin and Jared's story highlights all that can be good in man. The assailant in the Sandy Hook massacre highlights the worst. The actions taken on December 14 were devoid of humanity. Where does that leave us? What is the difference between these young men? I am not smart enough to have the answers to all of these questions. My goal in writing you today is not to give you answers. My goal is to lead you to the One who does.
Only God knows how men can view other men as less than human. In my opinion, that is the only way these events could take place. I discussed in my post "Louder Than Words" the impact touring the Auschwitz concentration camps had on me. It became very clear during that experience that evil was allowed to take place because the absence of humanity had taken place. That absence of humanity was a result of the absence of empathy.
The captors in the concentration camps viewed their captives as animals, as less than human. My question is; HOW? I do not have an answer for me or for you. I wish I did. I hesitate to show you these pictures. Yet I feel led to at the same time because they are a graphic example of the inhumanity I am grappling to understand. They were taken as a remembrance of those who suffered such evil:
|Broken baby doll and baby clothing.|
|Brick and hay cubicle beds (?) meant for multiples of 8 to sleep in.|
This display spoke volumes to me, as I have multiple health issues.
I would have not been allowed to survive for very long because
I would have been "defective" in the eyes of the Hitler regime.
|Blankets woven from the human hair that was confiscated...void of humanity.|
|Gas canisters used in the gas chambers.|
| Once again...void of humanity. Evil personified.|
These are but a few of the images we captured while touring Auschwitz. Such devastation. So many indignities to so many. All because of man's inhumanity to man. What more proof do we need of our desperate need for a Savior? No more proof is needed. All one has to do is observe man's behavior toward one another. I believe the only thing holding back complete evil in this world is God Himself and that day will end when no man knows Mark 13:32-37 NKJV.
In my post titled "Better than a Hallelujah" dated December 19, I said that our nation had just "had the wind knocked out of us" and we were all just trying to remember to breathe. This was in response to the events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary five days prior to that post.
Our nation is still grieving and will continue to do so, yet in the midst of our grief there comes a point that we must decide to move forward because in the meantime, we have work to do! We must not grow weary of doing good! Galatians 6:6-10 NKJV
We can move forward because we serve a High Priest who has great empathy and compassion for us He set the example to show us the way to love others even in the midst of devastation and indignities. Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV.
My song and my prayer for us today is in the form of a challenge for us all, in fact it's a dare. Like the song titled Dare You to Move by the band Switchfoot. Please take a listen to it when you are able.
What happens next? What happens next?...I dare us to move, I dare us to move, I dare us to lift ourselves up off the floor!...maybe redemption has stories to tell, maybe forgiveness is right where we fell...we have work to do! Romans 12 NKJV "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good". (vs 21)