By Bruce Stambaugh
The headline on the promotional, educational email I received got my attention. Listen. Live. Lead.
I had just finished reading a nationally known political commentator when the email arrived. Though written from entirely different perspectives, their messages mirrored one another.
The email’s main point perfectly meshed with that of the columnist’s. In this time of turmoil in our global society, we need to listen to one another earnestly.
We live in noisy, chaotic times. Even here in our rural setting, we feel the pressure of universal unrest. We can thank technology for that, for keeping us up to date with the world’s events as they happen 24/7.
At times, there appears to be no escape from the convoluted static that counters the pastoral approach to life here. From my senior years of observation, it seems that lifestyle is even wavering at times. I lament that fact as I see more and more compromising of our once calm, compassionate way of life.
The news isn’t all bad of course, but we need to be wise and use our common sense filters to sort out some of the ugliness. These are uncertain times. I think my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all could have said the same thing.
Life is full of doubt, disappointment, and dismay. That should not deter us from being civil, generous, and kind, especially at this time of year.
To avoid the appearance of casting stones, I’ll take responsibility for my own actions. It’s all any of us can ever do.
As I age, and I just had a birthday, I remember that everything I do and say has an impact on someone, someplace, somewhere. We don’t always know whom, when, and where that may be.
So it is critical, as the email stated, to listen to different perspectives, to live as global citizens, and to lead for the common good. I try to remind myself of those necessary life skills every day.
I think about my friends in Honduras who have taught me so much over the past 16 years. I first visited that lovely Central American country with a church group just as the new century arrived.
Not knowing much Spanish, I had no choice but to listen as I worked side by side with my new friends. We picked coffee beans together, mixed cement together, and shared meals together. For a few days, we lived the lives they lived.
Those in our groups learned so much about our hosts’ lives that varied so much from ours. The children especially were eager to teach us Spanish and we, in turn, taught them English. Listening significantly enhanced our cultural interchange.
When you’re knocking on the door of 70, words like listen, live, and lead grab your attention. I’m overjoyed for each new day I’m given.
In this season of gratefulness and celebration, it’s easy to get caught up in the all the hubbub of the holidays. The glitzy commercials extolling the charms of speeding, flashy, expensive automobiles, sparkling diamonds, and the latest computer games can overshadow the real reasons for the season.
That’s why the mutual messages of the newspaper columnist and the email hit home with me. Listen, live, and lead took on deeper meanings than buy, buy, buy.
If we apply those words of advice selflessly, our world and those we touch will be a better place. That’s a birthday gift I can gladly unwrap, heartily embrace, and willingly share.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2016