Monday, July 13, 2015

Values – More Than Lip Service

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke

Do you want to know who you are?  Don't ask.  Act!  Action will delineate and define you. - Thomas Jefferson

Action expresses priorities. - Mahatma Gandhi

When I first came to Calgary from out east a few years ago, I was often given a lecture on the importance of values – specifically of how western values trump eastern values, how Canadian values trump American values, how Calgarian values are superior to New York City values and the usual verbal diarrhea presented by people who feel insecure or inferior and therefore seek to diminish the person who makes them feel insecure.

It’s usually not worth my time to argue with such people as their poorly formed and poorly presented opinion often does not reflect the majority of people that surround them and so it is not worthy of analysis or discussion.

However, imagine my surprise today in the middle of a busy day in Calgary when my focus was suddenly interrupted by two words:

“Help me”.

I looked up to see if someone was just horsing around or if I had misheard something when the cry for help came again …. repeated …. insistent …. and with a raw edge of fear wrapped around it.

I looked around for the source of the plea and began to run towards it and as I did so, I ran past people who were not reacting to the screaming child at all.  As I ran past them, some stared, some moved out of my way and others simply looked quizzically at the mad man running towards them who said “A kid is screaming for help” as I ran towards the source of the screaming.

I pushed past several dozen people who seemed indifferent to the cry for help and I identified the source.  A ten-year-old girl was in trouble and as the first and only person on the scene, I was able to render the assistance necessary.

Shortly after, her parent arrived and we were able to bring resolution to a situation that could have been much worse.

Where I come from, when a child screams “help me” “help me” “help me” in raw terror, we react.  For all we know, a child is being taken against their will, is being attacked by a human or an animal or some other situation is unfolding that requires immediate action.

Today, a lot of people took no action at all.

As I left the scene and walked past the same people, some of them stared at me.  Others asked “what happened?” and I assured them that the girl would be ok but I didn’t stop walking.

Walking helps flush out the adrenalin and besides, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of adding “no thanks to you” or “why didn’t you do something – you were closer than I was”.

It was tempting but offered little if any value to their Life or mine.

The Bottom Line

I’m not tarring all Calgarians with the brush of “no values exist here”.  There are many great Calgarians (likely the majority) who answer the call when the word for help goes out.  We have seen many examples of this, including the flood of 2013 and other examples.

However, claiming to have superior values, having the courage to do something as a result of possessing them and actually taking action when called upon requires more than a pat on the back that comes from politicians and other public officials who proclaim that western values are unlike anyone else’s or a false sense of superiority is assumed “just because”.

I can point to several dozen people today who presented an example of the lack of values that I was told are common in “people from away” and which people in Calgary would never be known for.

Values are more than what we think, what we say or how we verbally compare ourselves to others in an effort to establish some sense of superiority.

They are not a western thing or an eastern thing.

They are not a Canadian thing or an American thing.

They are not a Calgarian thing or a New York City thing.

They are a human thing and are demonstrated in what we do when we are called to do so.

I think that events like this are a reminder that we all can and must do better when the call for help goes out.  It makes a difference and the next time a call for help is made, it might be from someone important to you.

Talking about it is easy.

Unfortunately, merely talking about it offers no value nor does it make a difference.

Let your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear what you are saying.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood,


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