Category Archives: Courage

My Thanks for 2006 and Wishes for 2007

Happy Holidays Everyone!

As 2006 comes to a close, we all have very much for which to be thankful.

– For the love and comfort of my family;

– For those of us who reunited with our old friends during the year and especially those who we had not been in touch with for far too long;

– For those whose ill health was caught in time and successfully treated;

– For those who started new families and learned of future additons to them;

– For those who while they faced crises both in their families and their communities, had the prayers, well wishes, love and support of so many friends and family;

– For those who served their country overseas in the name of helping others and saving lives;

– For the safety and well being of our loved ones who ventured out into the world on thier own;

– For Melanie, because, well, she’s just “Melanie”;

– For rediscovering the beautiful sound of Mona’s voice in the Great Market;

– For the opportunity to celebrate successes of our own and our children and the strength to overcome the defeats; and

– For each and everyone one of you who while you know it or not have had an impact on my life this year.

My wish for 2007 is that we can learn from those who have gone before us, by showing tolerance and understanding, peace and love for our fellow mankind.  That we learn from the mistakes we have made and the mistakes of others so that we we can improve our lives and help guide others to make the right choices.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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Where Were You When He Was Making His Choices?

I have received several comments as to my posts on Pat Lazear and the “Smoothie King Incident.”  Some printable, most not – all from Whitman “Faithful”.  One in particular that I received was from a young man who identified himself only as a “current whitman student”.  I have written the post below in response to his comment but it really is for everyone.  

current whitman student:

I appreciate your comments regarding this entirely regrettable situation which several of your former classmates/ team mates were involved. It is clear that Robert Warren had a troubled past and even his behavior at Whitman was not exemplary.

I don’t believe anyone is excusing Mr. Warren for his involvement in the Smoothie King robbery or that Pat Lazear had some magical power over Mr. Warren that forced to commit this crime.

But the real point that is being missed by so many people is that Pat Lazear made a choice to be involved with people like Mr. Warren and commit acts like the Smoothie King robbery.  Where were his parents, his coaches or his teachers to steer him clear of this kind of stuff?

Pat Lazear is a gifted athlete with an unlimited potential ahead of him.  He had his choice of colleges to attend, at no cost, and the opportunity to get one of the best educations in the country.  If athletics did not lead to a career after college for him he would have had the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds in the world any subject he chose.  And he could have used that knowledge along with the potential public notoriety he would have gained from playing sports in college to work anywhere he wanted.  The golden path lay before him.  He knew it.  His parents knew it.  His coaches knew it.  His teachers knew it.  Even his friends, like you, knew it.

But he was allowed to throw it all away because nobody ever sat him down and told him, “No.”  And why would they?  He was  this great athlete who if allowed to play in that next game, or wrestle that next match would bring glory and honor to his family, his team, his school.  His parents wouldn’t have to pay for college, his coach might win a state championship and get a better spot somewhere else, and people associated with Whitman could walk around saying they knew Pat when he tackled 3 guys by himself.

And no one can say there were no warning signs.  He was convicted of using a stolen credit card only 17 months before the Smoothie King incident.    He served 90 days court supervised probation for it.  This is not some little transgression.  One of the many Whitman “Faithful” who have written to me about Mr. Warren said that he, too, was convicted of using a stolen credit card.  I am assuming they committed that crime together?  Or maybe it is a coincidence.  Either way, if my kid was caught with another kid committing a crime, it is the last time my kid would be seen with that kid.  Especially a kid who has a checkered past like Mr. Warren.

If Mr. Warren’s behavior at wrestling matches was as bad as you say, how could the coaches not steer Pat away from him?  I know that some people believe that too many parents look to the schools to raise their kids.  And I am not advocating this.  What I am saying is that when a teacher or coach has the rare opportunity to have a student athlete like Pat Lazear, they should help him to see right from wrong, help keep bad influences away that might side track him.  Keep him focused on what he needs to do, and not do, to succeed.  Be an example, be a mentor, be an educator.  Don’t just turn the other way when they do something wrong or begin hanging out with the wrong crowd because it might upset your star and you won’t be able to ride the gravy train.  Do what is right for him.

I am glad so many people support Pat.  He is going to need it.  But where was everyone when he was making these choices?

The Third Man on the Podium

The time was 1968 and the Civil Rights Movement in America was at its peak.  Only months earlier the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated and there was unrest in the streets and hatred in the air.  Faced with the challenge (or opportunity) to make a statement on a World Stage about civil rights as a white person, would you have the courage to do it?

Peter Norman did.  Peter Norman, an average white Australian male who just happened to be in the right place, at the right time didn’t hesitate to make a statement.  And he never wavered on his position until his death last week.

Who is Peter Norman?  He was the Silver Medal winner in the 200 meters at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City or “The Third Man on the Podium”.

podium.jpgNo matter how old you are you surely have seen the picture.  Tommie Smith and John Carlos with their fists clenched above their bowed heads.  But have you ever stopped to think about the third person in that picture?  Who he was or what his reaction to this must have been?  I hadn’t.  Not until today when I read Mike Wise’s article “Clenched Fists, Helping Hand” in The Washington Post. 

In ways it was refreshing to know that Smith and Carlos told Norman beforehand what they planned to do.  Instead of alerting officials he chose to actively participate in the protest by wearing the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge. 

  

You have to ask yourself, “What would I do?”

This is a question many of us have asked ourselves since 9/11.  If we were on Flight 93 or any flight where terrorists tried to hijack the plane, how would we react?  That is a pretty extreme situation that is truly a matter of life and death and we all would like to think we would be like Todd Beamer and those heroes on Flight 93. 

But what about a situation that does not put your life or others immediately at risk?  What if it is a social statement that could risk you stature among your friends or in Norman’s case, his country.  Would you have the courage to do the right thing? 

I always enjoyed John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage when I was growing up and always felt it should be required reading in school.  I am sure if they were updated today, Peter Norman and his courage at the 1968 Olympics would be among the stories.

So ask yourself and answer honestly, “What would you do?”  If you find it hard to answer then you are in the right mindset because nothing of great consequence should be easy to answer.  The next time you are faced with the dilemma of doing the right thing or just ignoring the problem, think of people like Peter Norman and know that you can make a difference.