December 26, 2005
It was last package under the tree…DVDs…the full first year of the hit television series 24. The store clerk warned me. “Once you begin,” he said, “you won’t be able to get away from the television.” He was right.
The past 12 hours have been heart-stopping. Jack’s family has been kidnapped. Janet was hit by a car, saved by hospital emergency workers and then murdered. Torn by conflicting advice from every corner, Palmer, presidential candidate of supreme integrity, has to choose between sending his son to prison or saving an enemy from murder.
This show has it all. Intrigue, love, deception, honor, betrayal, sabotage and chaos. But above all, it has courage. Jack fighting to find his family, Kim pleading with her kidnappers to rescue Janet, Rick digging a grave for his friend while plotting escape from captors, and Teri offering to be the rapist’s victim in place of her own daughter.
Action is intense. Finally, worn out from danger and tension, we manage to turn off the television just as Jack runs after Teri and Kim into the woods, chased by men firing automatic weapons. Will CTU helicopters arrive in time?
Modern drama, amplified by special effects, has given courage a new persona. Back when courage was young, in the old black and white westerns of the 50s, it never had to outlast the last bullet in the six-shooter.
Today, courage must be teamed with the ability to speed down the freeway firing back at your pursuers while decrypting the ransom note on a palm pilot before satellite signals set on a 60-second timer fire an ICBM from Antarctica to obliterate the sold-out World Series crowd at Houston Astros Ballpark precisely at the moment the President of the United States throws out the first pitch.
But that’s movie courage. Real courage is more simple.
The world may indeed explode with one single blast of an ICBM. For a disaster of that magnitude, we need action heroes like Jack and their type of courage.
However, the world is ever more likely to dissolve in the poison accumulated over decades of human indifference to eternal truths that have been discarded in order to pursue our own momentary desires. We can turn the tide on such a disaster. But it will also take courage.
It takes courage to return to truth. Like the mythical sirens who sang to sailors, modern culture lures us with promises that we can have everything we want without a price. By far, the easiest path laid out for us today is the road of sexual permissiveness that has led to unwed teen pregnancies, an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, a breakdown in marriages and destruction of families.
Truths set aside, we have been persuaded that fidelity, honor, reverence, monogamy, and family no longer matter. We must resist the easy path before us. Only courage can help us restore the natural order of human life and dignity.
Declaring truth is an act of courage. Sex for humans is more than the animal sex act that produces a litter of puppies. In a world where promiscuity is excused as “natural” human conduct, we must have the courage to speak the truth.
Restoring truth in our homes is an act of courage. Setting standards for our own behavior as adults, becoming role models for our children, may force us to give up our own bad habits first. If we are to speak the truth, we must live it, too.
Upholding truth in our relationships is an act of courage. Seeking counseling to restore a marriage is a gift to ourselves and to our children, a decision that will challenge us to be better people at the cost of our own personal accountability and sacrificial love.
Standing apart for truth is an act of courage. Being the only parents who object to handing out free condoms at the local high school may set us up as targets for those who teach children that abstaining from sex is unrealistic and unnecessary. We must be willing to stand for truth, even if we are standing alone.
The world is in danger. The script for saving the world is already written in the eternal truths about human love. But it’s not enough to know the truth.
We have the power to save the world…one simple courageous act at a time. Real courage…in real life…is exercised in the simple decisions and actions each of us make during every ordinary day.
We may know the truth. But, courage is required to live the truth.
December 27, 2004 – New Year’s Resolution: Another Kind of Diet
See Archives for more past editorials.