Thursday, January 27, 2011
A Soldier’s Gratitude and Grace: Part Two of Two
Cont. from this 1 pm today:
Finally, after about 10 months, the house for the handicaped soldier was finished. A big article appeared in the local paper and all the crew and the new homeowner were featured in a happy picture.
I thought it was great. This man had given so much for us. He had made such a sacrifice on our behalf. It was the least we could do as a town and state to make sure he lived the rest of his life in a beautiful home, custom-built just for him. I understand if given the choice of his legs or a house, he’d have chosen to have his legs. I know it does not compensate, but as a community and small town, it was such a statement of unity and support for this soldier. We didn’t send him to war, but we were doing everything we could here now that he was home.
A few months ago, I was driving by and I noticed a sign at the end of his driveway. I squinted to read it.
“If you can read this, you’re in range.”
Humm, I thought. What does that mean? If I’m close to his driveway, he’s saying he has me in range to shoot me?
Now, I know, or I hope I know, that he’s not really sitting inside his new house lining me up within the crosshairs of his rifle scope, but I felt like I’d been slapped in the face.
This was the message he wanted to send out to the community of civilians that poured out a labor of love for 10 months? I could understand his anger with the government, but with his new neighbors?
I was ticked off. I was PO’d. I wanted to send a letter to the editor and write everything I’m writing here—and every day as I drove by, I grew angrier and angrier.
He’s just not grateful, I thought to myself.
Well, there’s a judgment for you, I thought. How do you know he’s not grateful? I asked myself.
The TRUTH was, I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything about this man. I just read the sign and assumed that he was not grateful. Maybe this was a joke, and I was reading all sorts of my own ideas into it. (I can do this from time to time.)
DANGER, DANGER, WILL ROBBINSON! my inner voice cautioned. (Check out Lost in Space if I’ve dated myself!)
I realized that I was making a huge judgment without any truth, facts, or insight—without the benefit of even knowing him or understanding him. And isn’t this how it happens? Isn’t this how wars get started in the first place—by a total misunderstanding of cultures and gross assumptions that fuel anger that can be totally unwarranted and off-track?
I knew it was. So I let my anger go. I became grateful that I was who I was and it wasn’t me sitting in that beautiful house watching the cars go by. I became grateful that men like the soldier in the house do go to war when our country calls them to, whether they really believe in the cause or not.
What is the truth? I don’t know. He could be overwhelmed with gratitude to this community. Maybe he’s not angry at anyone. But I can’t imagine how my life would be if tomorrow I lost both my legs. No house could ever compensate.
So here is my message today: Do not be quick to judge. Be grateful for what you have and who you are, and have compassion for others. Check yourself closely when you make judgments; if you make them, be sure that they are based on firsthand truth, knowledge, and personal experience. It is not easy, as it is against our human nature. We are so easily offended at times. Don’t we love to have someone to complain about! Not always, but sometimes.
And just remember...
It's impossible to hate anyone whose story you know. —H.S. Boylan
So have a day of love today for all people. And love yourself. You are people too!
Here’s to your TRUE success!
Kathleen Aston International
Founder & Life-Fulfillment Strategist
For more information on your complimentary 30-minute coaching appointment, please call 888.447.1191.