“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” – Thomas Paine [Tweet this.]
Do you think beautiful things can grow out of horrible events?
I was asked this question at a speaking event last week. It was a group of leaders that are struggling mightily as an organization, working within a challenging industry, and having recently endured some tragedies within their work family.
The following illustration is proof that good frequently flourishes during tragedy. The great problems, challenges and tragedies also serve as amazing opportunities for a new direction, renewed hope, and revelation of inspired leadership.
The images from the last few weeks in Ferguson rekindle memories of the chaos that followed the Rodney King decision in Los Angeles two decades ago. For four days, police were on their heals, buildings burned, shots rang out. Tragically, 54 people were killed and the worst of humanity was on display.
And yet, even in the midst of this nightmarish calamity shined improbable moments of brilliant goodness.
Two poignant examples of this took place on the same intersection at the corner of Florence and Normandie in Los Angeles.
Perhaps you remember the terrible images captured from a helicopter reporter. The video showed a truck driver approached by a mob of young men, stopping his vehicle, dragging from his vehicle and severely beating him. The entire event was captured and broadcast on live television.
A block away and safely in his house, Bobby Green Jr. watched on television what was taking place in his neighborhood. He unlocked his door, left his house, and sprinted to the scene. He helped the beaten man, Reginald Denny, into the truck, got him into the passenger seat and drove away from the mob. Green risked his life to drive the critically wounded stranger to the hospital.
Just moments later at that same intersection another innocent man was beaten. Fidel Lopez, at the wrong place at the wrong time, was pulled from his car, robbed, and beaten. He was stripped, spray-painted black, and likely to be murdered by the mob.
Until one person stepped forward.
Rev. Bennie Newton waded through the crowd and took Lopez into his arms. He then screamed out to the attackers, “If you want to kill him, you’ll have to kill me, too!”
The mob walked away.
So why share these stories this morning? What do two stories of heroic courage in the midst of terrible brutality have to do with you?
My friend, we hunger and thirst for men and women to step forward and show us that even during times of tragedy and challenge intersect moments of triumph and hope. [Tweet this.] These intersections aren’t just on the streets of LA decades ago, or on streets of Ferguson and New York today, but in every interaction in your life.
For you see, the attitudes, decisions and actions you make each day impact not just your day today, but our lives tomorrow.
The intersection you face may not be on a street corner with a mob around you. More likely your intersection is engaging fully and doing the right things professionally, it’s in taking full ownership of a problem looming at home, it’s in doing the right thing at school, and it’s in living each day passionately, selflessly and with integrity.
Today, there are fires burning around you. These challenges and changes provide the perfect inflection point. You can passively endure, point fingers and choose to be a victim to your past, your present circumstances, to what is happening to you. Or you can breath life into the situation by choosing to stand up, step forward, lead courageously, love relentlessly and impact profoundly. In making this choice you change the world, starting with your own corner of it.
My friends, what an opportunity, what a gift, what an intersection you find yourself at today! What happens next has much less to do with what happened yesterday and much more to do with the path you choose going forward.
Do you have an example of a time that you saw moments of hope and triumph in the midst of tragedy? If so, please share that story with me and the Rising Above community in the comments below. One person who shares by Midnight CST tonight will be randomly selected to receive my Holiday Gift Set!