Sunday, August 29, 2010

Give a Gift of Pride

I was traveling recently and took a side trip to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. I'd been to this site several times before but not since the Memorial and Museum were completed. But I wasn't prepared for the impact of this experience:

The Museum: It's worth the trip: the pictures, videos, audio histories and exhibits are riveting and moving. It starts in a room listening to the recording of an actual meeting held on April 19, 1995, in a building across the street from the bomb site - while listening you hear the explosion, the sound that changed all of us forever. From that point on, visitors proceed through a multi-media display of the chaos, rescues, survivor experiences, memorial services, a gallery of honor, a behind-the-scenes look at the investigations, and the community's efforts to rebuild neighborhoods and lives. Because the museum is in a restored building next to the site, there's a section that has been preserved so visitors can see, first-hand, the devastation caused by the blast. Last is the exhibit that shows the milestones and anniversary ceremonies that were and are designed to make sure no one ever forgets.

The Memorial: On the site is a field of empty chairs - one for each of the 168 victims, with smaller chairs representing the 19 children killed. There's a large Elm tree that survived the blast and is now known as the Survivor's Tree. And sections of the actual chain link fence that surrounded the site in the months following the bombing, complete with notes of love and hope left by early visitors. Like I said, it's riveting - all of it.

History is filled with events that change and shape our lives: over time these tend to blend into the fabric of our existence, and the messages and meanings can sometimes get lost or diminished. My visit to this incredible site and exhibit reminded me of the importance of remembering those events and people who have shaped us. Take time this week to realize how fragile life can be, and the importance of living life to the fullest with those you love. I know this is a recurring theme for me, but after this visit it's one that I really believe should be repeated. Take a moment to look at today.

My message this week is about pride and helping others see and feel pride in themselves:

You can't give people pride, but you can provide the kind of understanding that makes people look to their inner strengths and find their own sense of pride.” Charleszetta Waddles

For nearly four decades, the Reverend Charleszetta Waddles devoted her life to providing food, hope, and human dignity to the downtrodden and disadvantaged people of Detroit, Michigan. When, in the late 1940s, Waddles began holding prayer meetings at her house for small groups of local ladies, she emphasized practical, charitable actions rather than religious rhetoric. No one, she told her friends, is too poor to help those who are less fortunate.

What can you give to those around you today? Money, advice, a kind word, the shirt off your back, a hand, or maybe you’ll just do all of something for someone (have you ever said: “I’ll just do it myself”). For those times when you want to do something for someone, stop and ponder what would be best. You should always try to give others the basics, so that they can understand what’s needed, and why, and they then can begin to figure out the best way to do it themselves. If they do figure it out, then they not only accomplish something, they also learn how and why and when for the next time.

And then they’ll have the ability to show and teach others. And then they’ll feel like they are important to themselves and those around them. And then they’ll be proud of what they’ve accomplished.

Give a sense of pride to someone today.

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