Spines, and NotPosted: September 25, 2009
“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often strengthened.” — Billy Graham
This was our Thought for the Day at work yesterday. It is such a noble and romantic thought, a lofty ideal. It sounds strengthening, team-inspiring, uplifting, and my posture changed as I read it. I straightened and sat tall and felt empowered, felt brave. And then I remembered, I’ve done that many times. I’ve taken a stand, I’ve spoken out, stood for the right — when another was bound and determined to take me down and prove me wrong, I’ve stood. And … I stood alone. Every time.
I respect and admire Billy Graham. I often stop as I flip through TV channels and watch a few moments of reruns of his old crusades. I even attended one — in September of 1971, I saw and heard Billy Graham in person at Texas Stadium, as construction was completing, one month before it officially opened for football.
But Billy is wrong here. This statement is not true.
My life experiences have proved over and over that this statement is not true. In the Christian ministry for 24 years, in the local church, in a position of leadership in a nonprofit, I have seen reality. Most people stand with the noise of the group — with the small-minded person who is pushing harder and louder to prove something and to achieve personal gain. Actually, most people are silent, which means they stand with the noise of the group. They don’t want to get involved, they don’t want to rock the boat, they want to protect their own butts, they want to be accepted … they don’t care about truth.
When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others mostly shrink to the shadows, fold up and hide. People don’t like conflict, so they flock to the one who creates it, hoping she’ll shut up and life can be normal again. People love to ride the popular wave, the one that knocks over and drowns the one who took the stand. People are little. People are shallow.
Billy, you live on the top of a mountain. Life on the plain is different.
People are spineless.
Life’s too short.