My much loved nephew, Garth Callaghan, author of Napkin Notes, posted a quote by C. S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors. But after finding myself once again at the crossroads of doing what my heart, my conscience said was right, I amended that saying.
C.S. Lewis in a quote advised, “Do the right thing when no one is looking.” I say do the right thing when the whole world, or your closest friends are watching. Or maybe when some of your enemies are watching, hoping you will cave and run.
I think it is sometimes harder to do the right thing when you are being observed. This is especially true in a world where social media seems to slant what is right, wrong or maybe everything is okay, politically correct, all acceptable.
I sometimes feel out of step in some kind of march headed somewhere I do not want to go. I long for a conversation with my dad, gone now for so long I frown and try to recall how many decades. He had a strong sense of community service and doing what was right regardless of the circumstances. But his father, my Grandpa John, blazed the trail of doing what was right, no matter what the consequences. He was respected for his integrity in the mountain village where I was raised. I admired him. I loved him. I think much of what goes on in our nation and the world would more than distress him.
Yesterday, I quoted my Grandma Alice. She was my dad’s mom, an intelligent, independent woman. She would hear something about someone, be it in the news or about a neighbor, and say, “Another person kicked in the head by a butterfly.” That saying puzzled me for a long time until I realized if one was kicked in the head by a butterfly and could feel it, then one was soft brained. I get that now.
But the risk of soft brained leaders is that they can cause harm, they can create chaos, rain hardship on others. And I am not talking just about nationally elected leaders in developed nations. I am not having a discussion about events in our nation currently. I prefer not to go there. Makes me dizzy.
I am talking about elected and appointed leaders of all kinds and at all levels. Somehow we have leaders who don’t get the reality that a leader is to be aware of the greater good, not get carried away on a power trip. It is not about the leader. It is about the people under that leader’s influence.
I didn’t realize I was in leadership training as a child when I sat at the family table having dinner, listening to my parents talk, or listening to my Grandpa John talk with my dad. I certainly did not understand I was being taught to do the right thing in all circumstances, seen and unseen.
Of course, that requires developing a strong sense of what the right thing is. Bible study, prayer, spending time in silent worship, listening to that whisper from within, that sure sense that the thought is not coming from my own sometimes stubborn, often emotional self. I know that is the case when I am startled, ready to maybe argue, unhappy with the revealed truth.
Sorry about getting up on a soapbox, delivering a sermon of sorts. I simply needed to unwind and I do that best by writing. Always have since I was eight years old.
Thanks for your patience to those who read my words of frustration. I’ll write something light and funny next week. I promise.