Growing up I used to hear stories about my Great Uncle Osborne. He was a part of the family and he sounded just wonderful. I was told he was mentally retarded. He lived in a “home”. I never met him. Uncle Osborne was different than the norm or accepted individual of his day, which generally in those days, was not a good thing. There was no such thing as “main streaming” or public acceptance. Being “retarded” (what ever that entailed back then) was a shunned ignored darkness that loomed over a family. Social circles ridiculed and individuals cast their ignorant judgment. Mostly, I think, because the afflicted created more questions and more unease than answers and comfort in the spectators.
When I was in high school, my graduating class included Brian. He was “retarded” and he was mainstreamed. I recall the ridicule and jeering he would get in the hallway from classmates. They would tease him and imitate him and heckle him. It always hurt me to see it happen. But I would do nothing. I was no saint. I would turn, hang my head, and walk away. One day I watched an amazing thing transpire. David, one of the “popular” high school football players, risked his most prestigious campus status and stepped in between Brian and his critics. David stood up for him. He took Brian under his wing and introduced him, as a friend, to his social group. He encouraged the “popular crowd” to collectively consider Brian as a peer and in so doing, he single handedly changed the course of Brian’s high school experience. Brian graduated with us and when he crossed the stage, he received a standing ovation! I think it is actually David who deserved the ovation. One person changed the life of one person and in turn changed the lives of many.
Television and film are huge media outlets that subliminally tell us what to accept and what not to accept. The images that flash across the screen propagandize lifestyles, appearances, food choices, pharmaceuticals, good versus evil, and on and on and on. Drawing us to think collectively. We believe it. We buy it. We fear certain things and we come to expect certain things. I know I do.
I often wonder how the physical and spiritual interrelate in this carnal world. Sometimes it feels like the physical is the leader. It champions the way we should look, feel, act, and interact. But if that is true, than what happens to everyone who does not meet those expectations? What becomes of the Brians, the Osbones, and all of us who are unable to keep the carnal façade of perfection?
In contrast to the physical, what if the real leader was the spirit? It champions things like character, inward beauty, and peace. What if that were what collectively drew us together? How would that change the world we live in? How would that change me personally? I believe our true character is that person we become when no one is watching. It is who we are internally. It is deep within the soul. It is spirit and it is available to anyone who lives regardless of outside influence and expectations.
So, I have decided… the inward spirit, not the outward carnal, is the platform I want to live from. I want character, inward beauty and peace to guide my choices and reflect through me regardless of the circumstances I find myself in or the circumstances I find others in. I want to be that one person who changes the life of one person and in turn changes the lives of many.
Join me would you?