What is courage in your books? New York City firefighters, Navy Seals, Nelson Mandella, Chuck Colson? Cutting to the chase, what direction do you run when you see somebody at risk?
In our city of Duluth, Minnesota there recently was an accident between two city buses. A seasoned driver had a medical event creating a big collision. Cameras on one bus reportedly showed a passenger running from the rear of the bus to the front prior to the collision, trying to help the driver; sadly there was one fatality, you guessed it. This man’s instinct at 5:30 am on a Duluth bus, when everybody is half awake, was to take action ignoring any risk; he had been in the Marines but what would you have done? Hang on to the bus seat, yell at the driver, do nothing? It’s all risk and no time to reflect.
My wife Patty had several people reach out to her while she was getting tossed under the judicial bus. Most people turned away from perceived risk by association. We cherish those who stuck around and marvel at their courage. In the midst of Patty’s “situation,” including a two year investigation, we went out for supper. This is tricky when you have been front page news in a small city, but we still had the right to a “normal” life. Sure enough, while sitting in our booth, we saw an off duty detective who Patty knew from her prior job, very awkward any way you slice it. He approached our booth, his law enforcement partner saying “don’t do it, don’t do it.” We heard Bob (the detective) say, “I’ve got to listen to my heart.” He sat right next to Patty, accepted her tearful apology with a big hug and forgave her. Six months later he died unexpectedly. That restaurant moment lives on in our hearts. Quiet courage defying peer pressure, it was simply inspiring.
Recently Patty shared some of her story to co-workers in a job related workshop, including what it is like to lose your freedom and be judged for your actions. A male colleague quietly approached her afterwards and told her she was fearless to do that. Patty’s strength and courage comes not only from those who stood by her, but also a strong faith in Jesus. Forgiveness of our sins is not understood by many these days. It involves sacrifice, high praise and hope for your future, no matter what has happened.
So here’s the deal. If you lived in New York and personally knew Amtrack engineer Brian Bastion, involved in the recent Philadelphia train derailment, what would you do? Reach out to him or quietly back away? If you were in Brian Bastion’s shoes, what would keep your head together? Many in America have a one track mind when it comes to forgiveness, do the crime do the time. Just wait until you or a loved one has been there; forgiveness will look pretty good. You will never forget those who ran in your direction.