My Brother, My Sister

“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

–Jason Collins, first NBA player to come out

I am amazed and proud of Jason for such a courageous act. To be respectful of the timing with his announcement shows what class and dignity all about. This act of bravery got me to thinking, where in my life do I still need to raise my hand and stand up for what I believe in?

I don’t have to be an NBA player with a national setting to state my belief and make an impact in the world. It all can begin right where I am, right where I live, eat, work and play. I can make a difference in one person’s life by choosing to be brave, and show love, where it is much easier to ignore or show disdain.

When coming off the freeway and seeing someone holding a sign, asking for money or food, I don’t have to reach into my wallet necessarily, but how about just being human, looking them in the eye, and saying a prayer for them. So often I avert my eyes, as if that will make them disappear and free me from any obligation to consider them a child of God, just like me.

When I’m in the grocery store and a parent has a child with them that his having a complete meltdown, I can choose to pass by with my nose raised in the air, or worse yet with condescending eyes shred what little bit of dignity they may have left with a leering glance, or I can take the high road and express my empathy for them with my energy and eyes. Sure, it would make me vulnerable to a violent response of ‘mind your own damn business’, but maybe, it will give that parent that brief respite, that simple reprieve from what seems like an overwhelming embarrassment at the time.

When I’m with my friends and someone makes a snide comment about another person passing by, not to be mean, but to be funny, I can choose to engage in the laughter, entertain the mocking and add my own wisecrack. Or I can choose to take the high road, and not participate in laughing ‘at’, but only laughing ‘with’ my fellow man.

Perhaps if I choose to make better choices, the next time I am feeling apart from, I can allow myself a little slack, and know that I don’t have to feel shame over my shortcomings, and push the pause button on tapes that no longer serve me.

Just for today I will consider others.

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4 Responses to My Brother, My Sister

  1. Peg Dunlop says:

    Re the homeless….On occassion, I go to the nearest drive thru and swing back around w a bag of food. But at other times, I do avert my eyes in the hope that they will disappear and I will not feel guilty. I am the kind that feels guilty for getting them the burger w/o asking what they would like on it. What if they hate mustard? Life can be complicated. I am going to post your “Just for today…” I like that. Just sayin’.

  2. Debe says:

    “Gnostic Gospel of Thomas: Jesus says ‘If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” From Super Soul Sunday. (I think Mastin said that, but I’m not sure!)
    I love your idea of saying a prayer for the “Homeless” folks standing on the corner. I have it from a source that lived in a halfway house, that there are people that make their living “begging”! Not because they can’t work, but because that is easy, tax-free money. I’m sure there are those that are legitimate, but you never know!!
    As for the “screamin’ kid”, I put one big mouth little boy in the car, strapped him in his car seat & stood where he couldn’t see me until he shut up. That gave the threat “Do you wanta go sit in the car?” validity. I do understand that in the summer time in Phoenix, that isn’t an option, but it works in the cooler months. That is a behavior that IS NOT acceptable. The child may be autistic or have other problems & there’s nothing anyone can do about it. I believe that bringing your awareness of these outbursts to the parent’s attention is embarrassing at best! My suggestion is to pray for the child, the parent & all those that have to listen to it.
    Snide remarks are just cruel. “Walk a mile in my shoes”!! You don’t have any idea what the story is with the person you have chosen to “laugh with”!! You’re still making “light” of the situation.
    Please don’t hit the “Pause Button”. “Tell that thought to ‘Go away I don’t need you anymore’ ” – Oprah Winfrey.

  3. Diane says:

    Jason Collins….BRAVO!!

  4. Marion says:

    I was on an airplane this week, sitting in front of a dad with young (maybe 9 months?) child on his lap… a child whose only way to express an emotion (good or bad) was to scream at the top of her lungs. My ears truly hurt, & the sound made me jump several times. It was getting on my nerves, & I found I truly did want to glare at the parent. Next time I will say a prayer instead… this time I just stuck my fingers in my ears. In stores, I’ve often found that passing by & simply saying “having a bad day, are we?” will cause a child to stop in mid-tantrum; it’s that friendly but strange voice which seems to change the dynamics & stop the seemingly unstoppable. i like your thought, Greg, about simply trying to change our viewpoint away from a habitual response, & for stepping up to “raise our hand” when we could walk on by. Thank heaven that the Cleveland, Ohio neighbor responded when Amanda Berry tried to escape her captor … & did not simply say to himself it was none of his business.

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