With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, it would be easy to get caught up in the festivity associated with a day where we all consider ourselves Irish regardless of our heritage. However, with the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, I would be remiss not to share the life lesson it means to me.
For several years in writing these newsletters, I’ve reflected many times on my extraordinary childhood and the memories I’ve held dear to this day. I think of my diverse group of friends where the color we talked about was in our box of crayons, not the color of our skin. You were Italian if your last name ended in an “a,” an “i,” or an “o,” and if your hair was red, you were Irish for sure. We celebrated the things we had in common and laughed at our differences for the most part. While our parents bore the scars from a tough early life, they rarely talked about those times and often told us their goal was to give us a better life than theirs.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve also mentioned that I’ve become increasingly fascinated and more appreciative of those who fought so hard to give us the freedoms we enjoy today. Through countless articles and documentaries, I’ve tried to envision what it must have been like to be in the heat of the battle and the unquestionable sacrifice and bravery it took to leave loved ones behind and answer the call to serve their country. However, as much as I tried to grasp the intimacy of that experience, once I closed the book or came to the end of that documentary, I was safely home again, and my only scar was the bad dream I had just experienced.
Maybe it is because most of my generation didn’t have to fight a war, and unwittingly we’ve passed a certain naiveté and complacency down to the next generation. We don’t hear about sacrifice but more about entitlement. We don’t celebrate our similarities but focus on our differences. The teams we picked in dodgeball are far different from those we choose today, where color, political beliefs, and “my way is better than yours” are the deciding factors.
I’m amazed at how fast our world seems to be spinning out of control, and the values we held so dear have been tossed aside as antiquated thinking and no longer relevant. I’ve often prayed that God would get us back on track with some wake-up call before it is too late, and perhaps he finally has gotten our attention.
Those close to me know I start each day reading my devotionals and reference those readings with stories in the Bible. I find it amazing the stories in those pages I’ve been reading for decades appear to be playing out in front of us today. Sacrifice, persecution, bravery, and love of fellow man are on full display. It is as if we’ve been thrust back in time when those were qualities to be admired rather than avoided and taken for granted.
The tragedy we are seeing unfold in Ukraine is not much different than the story of David and Goliath. Who would ever think a comedian named Volodymyr Zelenskyy could rally his country and harness that resolve into a national battle cry. He sounds more like a character out of a Harry Potter novel, yet this unlikely hero is fighting alongside his fellow citizens against this mighty foe. And who would have thought countries throughout the world would be inspired to set aside their differences and rally around this outclassed nation of people whose only desire is to live in peace?
I’ve often said, “Men make plans, and God laughs,” and in an extraordinary way, God not only has a sense of humor in choosing the person he has but a plan no one could have expected. Sound familiar? Anyone who has played a team sport knows you leave your differences in a locker room, but you go out on the field as one. Is this our wake-up call and our last opportunity to come together as a nation ourselves? Is this our opportunity to resolve our differences instead of being so galvanized in our opinion and thought? I hope the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine will make us better as individuals and stronger as a nation before the lesson must be learned again. We have so much to be grateful for, and I hope that we not only rekindle what we have taken for granted for so long, but we can be an inspiration to others as the people of Ukraine and their president have been to the world.
We know many deserving charities are in dire need; however, at this time, the people of Ukraine desperately need our support. Listed are some of the organizations supporting their plight.
BStrong– Bstrong’s mandate is getting refugees out and aid into Ukraine #refugeesoutaidin Bstrong and Global Empowerment Mission have established a Welcome Center in Medyka, Poland/Ukraine border.
Expansion into Hungary & Romania: Your donation is scaling outside of Poland to partners in two other Ukrainian border countries to provide aid.
Airbnb.org Sign up to provide temporary housing for Ukrainian refugees or donate to their stays.
Care.org The international humanitarian group is providing food, water and other items to families fleeing violence in Ukraine.
Project Hope The global health and humanitarian relief organization is on the ground in and around Ukraine delivering medicines and medical supplies. It has teams in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and Romania.