"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9
A week past Father's Day seems to be a perfect chance to look back at this National Holiday. In honor of the day, Turner Classic Movies decided to dedicate a number of movies in which father-characters were in the forefront. The favorite, to be sure, was "To Kill a Mocking Bird", starring Gregory Peck.
For those who have never seen the film, the title comes from a simple statement made by a young girl named Scout. The father, played by Gregory Peck, taught Scout that the reason it is a sin to kill a mockingbird is because they only do good. They sing and make music, but don't steal or take anything from anyone. All these birds try to do is make life better for others. This simple theme carried through the movie as a man was wrongly convicted of a crime. In the midst of racial tension and pain, Gregory Peck's character found himself standing alone in being willing to do the right thing. The accused man had, in essence, sought only to help and ended up losing his life because of the selfishness of others. This is a painful theme that seems to occur throughout mankind's history. (For another example see the life and death of John the Baptist in the Gospel accounts)
It stirs some thought, though, on how closely any of us resembles the mockingbird. How many times can a person claim that they only give, and never take? In Detroit, we are over our heads with news of public officials who seem to take advantage of every opportunity, legal or otherwise. To be truthful, we certainly live in a society which encourages taking everything you can get. Commercials seem geared toward our most selfish natures as we flip through the list of things we deserve, whether we can afford them or not. The tragic irony is that, occasionally, a commercial for sponsoring children will enter amid the consumer chaos. The young child that will go without the most basic necessities. Enter the Mockingbird.
In the midst of the rat race, most of us will be faced with the opportunity to scratch and claw for every inch that we can gain on one side while we are robbed on the other. In fact, anyone who simply breaks even in this tragic reality is actually ahead of the game. And so, what will happen if we simply opt out and become more of the mockingbird? We seek the benefit of others over and above our own. We give up our rights and consider their needs. In short, we become the peacemaker, the son or daughter of God as listed above. It is no wonder that this position claimed a special place in the famous Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew.
And so it appears that two classes arise. The rat and the Mockingbird. Most often, we find ourselves somewhere between. Giving in some places, and taking in others. The final and painful truth, then, becomes that of character. Is our character defined by faith or by circumstance? In one case, it will be unchanged. In another, it will change with the wind. As one comedian joked, "God said, 'thou shalt not steal'. He didn't say, 'unless you're hungry!'" Truth is not changed by circumstance. Perhaps as we consider this today, we may look for opportunities to be a Mockingbird.
Be blessed this week, friends. To be sure there will be good news and bad news. Unfortunately, the bad news seems to pay the bills on television so it is up to us to see the good. Please tune in again later this week as we continue to share in this great gift called life. Until then, God bless and keep reading.