A Powerful Good

Pam: (looking at an old ROTC picture of me in the hallway) “You look so young and baby-faced. You are not smiling at all — makes you look evil.”

Me: “Good”

It was my immediate, honest, heartfelt response. And I think it is because at first apprehension, “good” feels incredibly weak, but “evil” doesn’t. Because no one messes with the “bad-ass” walking down the street with their “bitch face” on. :)

A recent viral quiz scored people on how good or evil they were. Ten questions as usual. The questions, almost universally, came down to whether you valued the needs, feelings or property of others. Would you take candy from a baby? One point for evil. Accidentally steal a trinket but not make it right? Another point for evil. Park in a handicapped spot? You get the idea.

Other than token actions (like not buying products from an exploitative manufacturer), there really weren’t any strong examples of doing meaningful things to make the world a better place or to confront evil head-on. The “good” this quiz valued was largely a good of thinking of others and following the rules. Not a good based on using one’s abilities to right (or prevent or confront) wrongs. Thinking of others and following the rules are good things, but the real world demands more than that for evil to be contained, repelled and overcome.

The real world needs more than a powerless good. The real world needs everyday bravery and acts of courage from ordinary men and women. The real world needs more powerful examples of “bad-ass” + good.

Photo credit

Cherry Creek Falls

Panda Traps

MissPhy6 and I went for a hike to Cherry Creek Falls today. It is a fairly easy, five mile roundtrip hike through the woods East of Duvall, culminating in a little waterfall and swimming hole.

We had to cross a bunch dry (and a couple wet) creek beds – which meant a sometimes slippery jog down one side and back up another. We started calling them “Panda Traps” but they were good for challenging the legs, so that’s that.

There were a lot of people on the trail today, and a ton of kids and their moms were already enjoying the cool water by time we got to the waterfall.

Just as we were about to go, a couple of dirt bikers showed up and wanted to know where we all came from, and although nothing bad happened, it sorta set my spider (panda?) senses tingling. I suppose they were just being friendly, but something inside my head just kept saying “threat” and to be ready to engage. Huh.

But, setting that aside, I was grateful for the chance to spend time with MissPhy6, stretch the legs, evade the “Panda Traps,” work up a little sweat, and wade in the cool, cool water.


Red Belted

I got my red belt in TKD last week after three months of effort and no broken toes. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it – I was, for a while, hung up on the round kick – I was held back by fear of breaking a toe again – but with practice and more practice while slowly increasing power and lining things up I was able to do it.

My black belt draws nearer and my emphasis this cycle (high red) and next (black) will be on increasing my leg strength and hip flexibility and also on engaging (not freezing) in confrontations.

“Engage, Maverick, Engage” – not just pretty words

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Divine Intervention

They fled to the church. Thousands of them. Packed in. The bad guys surrounded the church, threw grenades, dumped gas on the building, laid seige, but the walls would not collapse. Day after day they attacked but the church walls stood firm, protecting the people within.

Finally, the priest left the church, directed the bad guys to get bulldozers and showed them where the weak points were in the walls. They demolished the building killing all inside.

That wasn’t how the story was supposed to end. There should have been a flaming bolt from heaven, or angels with burning eyes and flaming swords sending the bad guys to hell. But there was no divine intervention for the Tutsis, no smiting of Father Athanase Seromba before he could betray those in his care.

That happened in 1994. That wasn’t how the story was supposed to end – I mean, after all don’t our religions wax poetic about the divine interventions of centuries long past and doesn’t pop culture sell us on superheroes swooping in to save the innocents?

We wait for angels with flaming swords or storybook heroes to stop the madness, but they don’t.

So… stop trying to fill my head with tales of the Angel of Death and Pharoah with signs and wonders following. Tell me more about men like Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, who smuggled Allied soldiers out from behind Nazi lines.

As for fiction, give me less immortal Captain America, superwealthy Iron Man, radioactive Doctor Banner. But instead give me more characters like Black Widow who have no superpowers at all.

Give us contemporary heroes and relate-able characters who stand up to the evil in this world with the same ordinaryness as the rest of us. That’s what the world needs right now. That’s what the people in that church needed.