Posts Tagged 'Kindness'

Love and Basketball

This story has been making the rounds on television – I saw it first on the CBS news, so here’s the link:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-high-school-basketball-team-incredible-sportsmanship/

It tells about how a couple of high school boys in Waco, Texas, thought it was sad that the Gainseville, Texas, juvenile correctional facility’s basketball team never had any fans when they came to play. So this time, when the Gainesville Tornadoes came to play in Waco, these two students made sure that the Tornadoes had fans, posters, and even cheerleaders to make them feel like a real team.

Of course, they were already a real team, but it just took a bit of love to help them to fully realize it. A classic definition of the kind of love God expects from us is this: meeting other people’s needs at the expense of our own. I’m sure it wasn’t necessarily easy for the two Waco kids to put this whole thing together, and I’m sure that they could easily have just brushed the whole thing off. But in the end, because of the love showed by the people in Waco, at least a couple of the Gainesville players said they would never forget that day for the rest of their lives. Who knows, maybe it even turned them around.

I work in criminal justice, and I understand the need for empathy to solve the kinds of criminal issues we see today. What I don’t say enough is that I absolutely think that God is really the only way to solve any criminal justice issue. We can talk about cost-benefit analyses, constitutional mandates, and even social science research, but it’s only love for our fellow human beings that will change our future for the better.

Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” but this merely reminds us that the word “least” is really a label that we use in the world. God doesn’t love them any less, but they do offer us an opportunity to show love, mercy, and justice in concrete ways.

As Saints, what we do in the world matters, but the two boys in Waco have shown that you don’t have to dump a bunch of money at a problem or come up with some amazing super-solution to make a difference. All it takes is a bit of love and creativity, and God smiles.

Pope Francis, Freedom of Speech, and Love

pope

I didn’t have time to write about it when it happened, but I was quite impressed by the Pope’s comments concerning freedom of speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. Basically, he said that there must be limits to what we say or depict, and that perhaps deriding someone’s deeply held faith should be one of those limits. No, he didn’t condone the killings in Paris, but he took a decidedly Jesus-like attitude toward the whole thing. Here is the Wall Street Journal’s story on it:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-francis-sees-limits-to-freedom-of-speech-1421325757

Think of it this way, is making fun of anyone really a loving thing to do? What if it hurts people to do it? In the Charlie Hebdo case, the cartoons led not only to killings in Paris, but also to a variety of politicians saying that we should root out radical Islamists and kill them. Everything surrounding the decision to run the cartoons seems to have led only to a focus on killing other people, and that simply cannot be squared with anything taught by Jesus Christ.

Sure, we allow freedom of expression in America, and so we allow people to get away with tons of horrible and hurtful things in the name of the First Amendment because we are “Americans.” But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have some self-restraint.

In another story, the group Reporters Without Borders said that the Pope’s statements were dangerous, and that limits to freedom of expression should never be set by religious leaders. Well, I disagree. By following Jesus, I often have to refrain from things that may be within my rights to do, but that would hurt people, and thus would not reflect God’s love. Everyone has a choice, and I simply choose to follow Jesus. He limits my secular freedoms every day, and I am better for it.

A couple of weeks ago, Face the Nation host Bob Shieffer said that he likes Pope Francis because he often reminds us that religion is about kindness. And so Shieffer, a self-described “strong” defender of the First Amendment, nonetheless ended his show by saying that the Pope’s comments about freedom of expression remind us that “there is a difference in having the right to do something and doing the right thing.” I think Jesus would agree.


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