Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Rules of Boating and the Powerful Giving Way to the Powerless

Marian Wright Edelman mentions Dr Eileen Lindner who shared this story of taking her car to a Jiffy Lube for servicing:

Not having anything to read, she picked up a manual on the coffee table about boating. A chapter on the rules for what happens when boats encounter one another on the open sea described two kinds of craft: burdened and privileged.

The craft with power that can accelerate and push its way through the waves, change direction, and stop on demand is the burdened one.

The craft dependent on the forces of nature, wind, tide, and human effort to keep going is the privileged craft.

Since powerful boats can make their way forward under their own power, they are burdened with responsibility to give the right of way to the powerless or privileged vessels dependent on the vagaries of the tide, wind and weather.

“Who wrote this thing?” Eileen asked. “Billy Graham? Mother Teresa? What’s going on in our land when the New Jersey Department of Transportation knows that the powerful must give way if the powerless are to make safe harbor and the government of the United States and the Church of Jesus Christ and other people of God are having trouble with this concept?”

Source: Marian Wright Edelman, The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is So Small (New York: Hyperion, 2008), 47-48.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “…what happens when boats encounter one another on the open sea…”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Battle at Kruger Park and the Protection of the Vulnerable

In her book, The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is So Small, Marian Wright Edelman tells this compelling story about the need to protect the vulnerable by urgently working together as a community:

"One of the most-watched videos on YouTube shows the struggle of a water buffalo family and herd to save a child. It’s called the Battle at Kruger Park."

"It begins with a buffalo mother, father, and child meandering peacefully ahead of the herd, unaware that a pride of six lions are stealthily easing up to attack them. Sensing the danger too late, the water buffalo parents and calf immediately turn and run away. The child cannot keep up. The six swift lions lunge and overpower this slowest and most vulnerable family member, tumbling with him into a river. As the lions attempt to pull the buffalo calf from the water, an alligator grabs one of the child’s legs, eager to share the bounty. The tug of war between the lions and alligators over the young buffalo prey seems to last a painful eternity. As the lions win and drag the buffalo child onto land and surround him, ready for the kill, you realize, joyfully, that the child is still alive, but are horrified that he now is going to be devoured."

"In the middle of this life-and-death drama, you suddenly hear and then see movement as a large herd of water buffalo—a rescue posse—come storming in to surround the lions, who do not immediately relinquish the child despite being greatly outnumbered. After a moment of herd uncertainty, one angry buffalo—who I just know was the mother—furiously attacks a lion with her horns and hurls him away. Others in the herd follow her lead and confront another lion, but still are unable to extricate the child. Another attempt succeeds as the child struggles to its feet, and the herd swiftly surround and whisk him away. A buffalo remains to chase a remaining lion away."

Marian Wright Edelman concludes with this application:
"Incredulous that the child was saved, I asked myself: Where is our human posse—our community posse—as the human lions and alligators eat our children alive across America today? And what are the lessons this thrilling rescue of a water buffalo child provide us about our responsibility to protect and save our endangered children?"

Source: Marian Wright Edelman, The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is So Small (New York: Hyperion, 2008), 31-32.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Some of the lead characters in the cast in the drama of The Battle at Kruger Park.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Story for the US President about Gatekeepers

In an article written by Bill Moyer and Michael Winship for the Salon magazine calling President Obama to ‘Stop Protecting Wall Street Bankers from Main Street’, the authors remind their readers of this story:

“That old story –perhaps apocryphal but containing a powerful truth—of the Great Wall of China. Four thousand miles long and 25 feet tall. Intended to be too high to climb over, too thick to break through, and too long to go around. Yet in the first century of the wall's existence, China was successfully breached three times by invaders who didn't have to break through, climb over or go around. They simply were waved through the gates by obliging watchmen. The Chinese knew their wall very well. It was the gatekeepers they didn't know.”

Source: ‘Obama: Stop Protecting Wall Street Bankers from Main Street’ Salon Magazine, April 9, 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: President Obama and the Great Wall of China.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Rainbow in the Midst of the Storm

André Trocmé was the pastor of a small French Reformed congregation in the middle of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon during World War II.

When the order came down from the pro-Nazi Vichy government to deport the Jews who had taken refuge in this mountainous region of southeastern France, Trocmé refused to cooperate. He proclaimed from his pulpit that the people must create a “city of refuge” for all those sought by the authorities, “lest innocent blood be shed” (Deut 19:10). The Chambonnais responded to their pastor’s charge, ignored the official government decree, and with the Sermon on the Mount as their basic plan of action began to hide and then smuggle Jews and other refugees from all over Europe to Switzerland.

By the end of the war, and without firing a shot, the little Huguenot church in Le Chambon, with assistance from an even smaller Plymouth Brethren congregation, saved some 5,000 lives, though there were some in the village who were imprisoned and executed, including members of Trocmé’s own family.

After the war the mother of three children who were saved by the Christians in Le Chambon exclaimed that, “The Holocaust was the storm, lightning, wind, rain, yes. And Le Chambon was the rainbow.”

Source: Barry Harvey, ‘From the Heart of the Storm…’ Review and Expositor, 97 (2000) 315.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: View of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon-date unknown.