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Does reality ever stir your soul?
“Does reality ever stir your soul?”
It’s a heavy question. When I recently heard it I was able to immediately think of two very different answers – one that made me feel good and one that made me feel ashamed.
The good one came first. It was a memory that was only one day old. As a spectator at the Bleckley County Invitational I witnessed something inspiring.
A Jones County High School student hit the final turn in his race against hundreds of other runners a little too sharply, twisted his ankle, and crumpled to the ground.
He got back up, tried to run again, but immediately fell back to the ground. He laid there for a moment in obvious agony. People began to call for medical assistance, but the teenager stood up once again, this time on one leg.
There was really no reason for him to finish the race. At least 30 runners had crossed the finish line at that point, so the Top 10 medals were long gone. I don’t recall seeing a single one of his teammates pass by, so his time wouldn’t have made a difference to any of them either.
Still, he was determined to finish, so he began to hop on one leg. For 40 to 50 yards, his face contorted with expressions that not only made his pain obvious, but made him look downright grotesque. But it was also beautiful.
For everyone watching, it was a beautiful display of the human spirit – a moment when a young man stirred their souls with his grit and determination.
Now, for the bummer. I also thought of Malala Yousufzai, although I had no idea what her name was at the time. I just remembered briefly seeing a snippet of a news broadcast about her and quickly turning the channel. She is a teenager who was shot for going to school somewhere in the Middle East.
That’s all I knew. I didn’t want to know any more. I didn’t want to have to think about that type of evil in the world. It’s much easier to be inspired by the good and to block out the bad.
But after being posed the question at the top of this column, I thought about it and I realized it was a shame that it didn’t make an impact on me – that I was able to shrug it off.
So, I looked it up. For those of you who don’t know about it – or like me chose to ignore it – Malala is a 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for going to school and speaking out for her right and the right of other girls to do so. She was flown out of the country for treatment and has survived – but the Taliban has vowed to “finish the job” if she returns.
She will likely return and continue to speak out. She had already known that she was risking her life. When asked what she would do if the Taliban tried to kill her, she reportedly had said, “I’ll first say to them: ‘What you’re doing is wrong.’”
Wow. The reality of that 14-year-old (both her circumstances and her courage) should stir everyone’s soul.
I don’t propose that my simply being aware of the plight of a young girl in the backward reaches of the Middle East will make a difference. But what if we all kept our eyes open and allowed the terrible – and wonderful – realities of this world to move us? What if as citizens of the most powerful nation on the planet we then used our voices and our votes appropriately? For fellow believers in Christ, what if we let reality move us to earnestly pray?
I ask each of you to spend a moment pondering this question: “Does reality ever stir your soul?”
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by Richard Harris