What happened this weekend of course is unspeakable. I don't know the answers. I hurt because of the human tragedy and because that could have been any of us going out to eat, attending a concert or cheering at a sporting event. Here's what I do know:
- The threat from radical Islam is real. These people are serious.
- If we live in and by fear, the terrorists win.
- I feel bad for my Muslim friends, some of which are truly among the best people I've met.. In many ways, they have it difficult already in this nation and other western countries. This doesn't make it easier.
- We need to answer what draws people to radical Islam. It's not just ideology. There is an entire group of people who feel alienated for one reason or another and seems to have found refuge in religion.
- As I type, France has begun airstrikes on ISIS targets. I wish them the best. I want to take down the bad guys. I worry about collateral damage. Do we perpetuate and raise more terrorism by simply raining bombs on helpless people? Today's children are tomorrow's ______________ [fill in the blank].
- I think we help determine what goes in that blank.
- Call me naive or dumb, but I do not believe ISIS can sustain itself. It's message and branding I believe will get tiresome to the masses. I just believe good will overcome. Humanity will win out. There will be a backlash and it will come internally. I just hope it comes sooner than later.
- I will go to Paris. Soon, I hope. I need to eat outside in a cafe, walk along the Seine, be humbled at Notre Dame, soak in the view from the Eiffel Tower and be introspective at the Louvre. Then there is Normandy, the Riviera, Corsica, and the Alps. And, I still need to see the Tour de France live. Yes, France, I'm coming for you.
2) I did not forget Beirut and Kenya. My heart hurts there too. I don't think there's a media conspiracy to ignore it as some people have alluded. I believe, as one of my friends shared, that we can relate with Paris. There's empathy there. We know Les Miserables, the French Revolution and Dijon Mustard. There's less of a connection with the Lebanon (though it is part of the biblical land of Canaan). Most Americans couldn't tell you Nairobi is a city in, much less the capital, of Kenya. Many more could tell you Paris is in France. For the great majority of Americans, Paris hurts because it feels like a small part of us hurts. The human tragedy of Lebanon and Kenya hurt us, but there's less of an emotional connection.
3) I spent the weekend at Pioneer Plunge on the Grace Watershed High School Man's Retreat. It's a weekend of bonding and spending time connecting with and depending on each other. There's no running water, electricity or heat. We slept in uninsulated cabins. I slept in a hammock. Temperatures got into the 20s.
- Pioneer Plunge is on the property of Windy Gap, a ministry of Young Life. All the land was sold years ago to Young Life for $1 to use as a ministry to high school and college youth.
- The main cabin at Plunge burned down last year. Groups like ours are helping rebuild it. We learned to lay block, filled a retaining wall, hewed logs and chopped wood. It was great stuff.
- The theme was Brotherhood. What does a Christian brotherhood look like? We used the story of the friendship of David and Jonathan as an example.
- I'm really thankful for the adult leaders that came and poured their hearts, talents and love into these young men. They set great examples for the boys and inspire me.
- Since we had no cellular service, I did not get any updates on the tragedies. What a shock to turn on my phone and try to decipher all the information.
4) I did get a ride in. Buck Tanner asked me today if I wanted to ride up Thrift Cove and down Black Mountain with him and his son. Tired from the retreat, I went to get away from the news. I love this route. Thrift was a long climb, but easy since we got to go at Rowan's pace. Black was dry for once and fun to hop down. They called it a day and I went on and finished with Sycamore Cove, a rooty and fun trail that has several small creek crossings towards the end. I'm glad I got a ride in. I needed it.
5) How cool is this: a wrestling match in a football stadium. Over 42,000 people in attendance.
6) Speaking of wrestling, Knights Wrestling had two big events last week:
- Wednesday was our Boot Camp. We took the kids out to John Rock in Pisgah and ran them up to the top, did some team building and drills and came down for lunch. Good time was had by all and no one fell. Some of my students have never been to Pisgah, so it was great to get to share that with them.
- Thursday was our intersquad scrimmage. Our Purple-Gold Scrimmage has become a fun tradition. I divide them into teams and they compete in a regular dual. It's the first real experience for some of our kids. We had a close, hard fought scrimmage. Purple won 31-21.
7) I watched zero football yesterday since I was at Pioneer Plunge. Based on that:
- Georgia Tech's 18 year Bowl Streak (3rd longest in the nation), will come to an end. So many mistakes on Thursday night.
- Top 7: 1) Clemson 2) Alabama 3) Oklahoma St 4) Ohio St 5) Notre Dame 6) Oklahoma 7) Iowa