The Pitfall of Natural Talent

Photo of the 2006 Greco National Finalists at 140 Pounds

My heart is heavy as I write this. Several days ago a young man, let’s call him Frank, with tons of pure talent died in a motorcycle accident running from the police making a routine traffic stop, and his girlfriend lies in a coma fighting for life. She has two small children at home wondering where she is.

It was the first really nice day of the spring, and his the last day of his life.

This young man had tremendous potential. He was a natural athlete. Even in a tough sport like wrestling, he made winning look easy. He loved the attention of his success, and he always had a ready smile for the parents and teammates who were happy to be his coach or friend.

He was a charmer, and he knew it, but that charm didn’t keep him out of detentions or trouble with the law as he got older and adventurous. The free flowing, unrestrained way he wrestled didn’t translate well into academic discipline, or disciple of any kind, for that matter.

I only knew him from afar. I wasn’t one of the better or more gregarious coaches. My boys were younger, and they didn’t have as much natural talent. My older son didn’t have a winning record until his third year in wrestling, but he dreamed big and worked hard at it.

I used to tell him that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I wanted him to believe that. I wanted to believe that.

At the same time, I took consolation in the character that was being built into him, and I tried to instill the importance of character in him. I would like to say that character should always be the priority, but who doesn’t long to win, be successful and have the attention of the star athlete? Like Frank.

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Reading Between the Lines

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore

If anyone ever thought that we could accept a news story at face value, even one written by a nationally respected news source, those days seem to be over. Not only do we have to be concerned about fake news, we need to be concerned about bias in the media, all media.

Frankly, bias has always existed. The media Mantra of objectively reporting the news has always been an ideal at best. Maybe we are just now throwing off the pretense.

Whatever the case is, reading between the lines has never been more important or, perhaps, more difficult. When it comes to Donald Trump, can we believe anything he says? Can we believe anything the media reports?

These are my thoughts as I read Washington Bureau reporter, Tracy Wilkinson’s and Brian Bennett’s, article: “President Trump Has Backed off Many of His Provocative Foreign Policy Promises “.

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The Power and Influence of Example

Depositphotos Image ID: 51153561 Copyright: Kruchenkova

We tend to become like the people we choose to associate with. Paul was peaking of this tendency when he warned the Corinthians: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) But it works in reverse as well, and the influence of example is nowhere more important than with leadership.

So Jesus taught that the greatest leader among us is the one who becomes the servant of all. He said, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26) If our leaders were our greatest servants, imagine what their followers would be like?

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The Toughest Kid on The Block

Courtesy of the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame

I have seen different versions of the Toughest Kid on the Block by Randy Lewis, including one posted on the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame website. The version below was posted to the Open Mat Forum, on the official website of USA Wrestling.

Randy Lewis is a legend in the wrestling world who wrestled for the legendary Dan Gable on the legendary Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling teams of the 1980’s. He is as gregarious a story teller as he was an exciting, no holds barred, wrestler in his day.  This particular story is as well told as it is inspirational, and I have embedded the the video of his legendary match with the Russian, Victor Alexeev, a two-time world champion.

Even if you aren’t a wrestling fan, don’t understand and haven’t even watched it before, you will be warmed by this story of a father’s wisdom and a son’s willingness to believe in it. Enjoy! And be inspired!

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Friends, Enemies and Neighbors on Social Media

Crazy couple screaming over chalkboard background

Depositphotos Image ID: 98171734 | Copyright: Vadymvdrobot

While the Godfather might have lived by the motto, “keep your friends close but your enemies closer”, most of us shut out enemies out and listen only to our friends.  This is human nature.

These thoughts occur to me as I reel from the flurry of angry and angst-ridden posts on Facebook. We have endured a particularly long and relentless period of political and sociological tensions dating back to the last Bush presidency. That the angst seems to have arisen with the rise in popularity of social media sites, I think, is no coincidence.

Regardless, the Bush, Obama and now Trump presidencies have proven to be fraught with angst and angry rhetoric from all sides. Social media was barely a thing when George W. Bush exited office, though he did exit office under a barrage of social media posts.

Considering human nature, and assuming that we all want our voices to be heard and taken seriously, perhaps we should think a little deeper about the difference between the voices of friends and enemies. Maybe an understanding of human nature, including our own, might help us to be heard better than it seems we are now.

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Whose Side Are We on?

depositphoto Image ID: 12096314 Copyright: ZouZou

depositphoto Image ID: 12096314 Copyright: ZouZou

I saw this posted on Facebook:

Apartheid was legal,

The Holocaust was legal,

Slavery was legal,

Colonialism was legal.

Legality is a matter of power, not justice.

I am not sure of the point of this meme, but it got me thinking. For one thing, power and injustice don’t always go together, but there is certainly a strong correlation between the powerful and injustice to the powerless.

In that context, think about these words from the most famous sermon given by Jesus:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.[1]

Jesus was not talking to the powerful in this sermon. He was preaching good news to the poor.[2] He wasn’t urging the poor, the downcast, the meek to rise up and riot or challenge the power of the powerful. He was telling them they were blessed, for great is their reward in heaven!

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