If I say, “I’ll be there for you”, you think…Friends, the hugely popular TV sitcom. If I say, “You want to go where everybody knows your name”, you think…Cheers. It’s no surprise to anyone that the most popular TV shows of all time feature the basic needs of human beings, the need for Belonging and Acceptance.
Think further…in I Love Lucy, always in trouble, overly ambitious, and rarely successful, Lucy (played by Lucille Ball), after failing in virtually everything she attempted, was lovingly accepted with open arms by her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz at the end of every episode.
In Gilligan’s Island, the theme of each episode was to get rescued. As a child watching the show, I hoped, along with the seven stranded castaways, that this would finally be the day that it would happen, never thinking that it would end the series. My oh my, what the Professor could do with coconuts. Maybe Elon Musk could use coconut batteries in his next Tesla model. Gilligan, after screwing up every episode, still held on to the title of “Little Buddy” by the Skipper who unconditionally loved his first mate.
There is true comfort and health in being accepted and belonging, but it’s a slippery slope when using social media to derive your self-esteem. The numbers of “Friends”, “Likes”, and other acknowledgments, never seem to be enough and it nearly always results in a comparison to other unachievable numbers that others seem to muster. What is supposed to make you feel great, can often lead to sadness, anxiety, and depression.
The term Cipher is a relatively unknown word that describes a person who is completely societally irrelevant, forgotten, a ZERO. A 20-minute movie put out by the Mormon Church back in the mid 70s describes a boy named Cliff who literally died in a snow bank of a broken heart, completely erased and empty of relevance. The movie was put together to help teachers recognize the signs of this zeroing out of a human being.
One of the greatest gifts a person can receive is to have someone fight for them. This past Sunday was Father’s Day. One of the roles of a father is to fight for their children’s honor and value at all costs. As a family, we sat around telling old stories from the kids’ school days, and it was brought up that I had, over the years, made a trip to school on behalf of each of my four children (and other’s children as well) to deal with an injustice where a teacher had not properly protected my child in a manner that they deserved. Not one to shy away from confrontation, I calmly, professionally, and directly dealt with each situation with positive results.
It would be good for us to learn to not focus on the small blemishes of people that we encounter or that are part of our regular daily lives. Often what clouds our vision is really the log of our own ugliness in our own eyes distorting our view of the true value of the other person.
Once, a homeless man living under a bridge in a city, on a Sunday morning, decided to visit the local church that was within walking distance. Upon arriving late, while the service was going on, he could not find an empty seat. The man proceeded to walk up the center aisle and chose to sit right on the floor in the aisle near the front of the church.
The parishioners, distorted by their own logs, saw a dirty, smelly man interrupt a perfectly good sermon, probably a sermon on Loving One Another. Just at that moment, an elderly usher walked down the aisle and rather than clearing the man from his seat in the aisle, instead, sat right on the floor beside the man, putting his arm around him. The preaching of the usher by his actions, silenced the bellowing of the pastor that day. As far as the usher was concerned, this man was not going to be erased and reduced to a ZERO like that of a Cliff, the Cipher.
It really is a daily challenge, and not an easy one, to decide to treat others with respect and dignity even if you don’t think that they deserve it. The man who cut you off as you waited for 20 minutes in traffic may have been late to pick up his wife for marital counseling. Wouldn’t you have gladly let him in?
The person who checked out 27 items in the 10-item checkout lane, may have had a prescription for an antibiotic for his daughter’s strep throat among the 27 items in his cart and just couldn’t wait in the long line where he should have been. It is rarely as we imagine it to be. We must begin to see value in others beyond their outward appearance.
We must begin to look to the Heart! Once we learn to see people for their true value and not the value that our world influences, we will begin to enjoy peace beyond all understanding. The greatest and hardest thing we can do is to love one another.