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Monday, June 6, 2011

3 Things to Do When The Bad Guys Win

Bad things happen to good people, often at the hands of “bad” people. This recently happened to a friend of mine who lost the job they held for several years.  This person was a dedicated employee, strategic thinker and dynamic asset to their company.

The only reason given for the termination was a “shift in organizational focus” which is business-speak for “we don’t need a reason.”

While the individual received a severance package, it’s cold comfort knowing that quality employees can get canned on the capricious whim of an organizational higher up; however, there are steps that can be taken whenever this type of injustice occurs.

[JESUS FREAK ALERT: Note the next few paragraphs will contain relevant scriptural passages – proceed with caution.]

This incident involving my friend, reminded me of a passage in the book of Matthew when King Herod beheaded John the Baptist because a stripper asked him to.  Now, John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin. They were very close and loved each other very much. This was how Jesus responded to the news of his cousin’s murder.
“When Jesus heard of it, he departed to a desert place; and when the people heard – they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion – toward them and he healed their sick.”(Mt. 14:13-14)
Whether or not you share the Christian world view, these two sentences contain a powerful model to be used against injustice in its many forms. I’ve underlined the key areas for consideration:

  • He departed to a desert place – it’s interesting that Jesus chose to remove himself from the potential volatility of this highly-charged situation to a place of isolation. As background, both Jesus and John had rapidly expanding, grassroots support amongst various groups who wanted to overthrow the Romans and their provincial political puppet, King Herod. There could have easily been a bloody revolution that day, but Jesus retreated in a seeming effort to diffuse emotion and redirect action for a later time. The natural inclination is to stand your ground and fight. While there are obvious times where that posture is necessary - Jesus chose a different path in this particular instance.
  • Moved with compassion – this phrase is grossly misunderstood in modern English. We tend to consider compassion as a passive, weepy, milquetoast response to bad things. However, scholars of ancient language describe compassion as, “…the agitation of the innermost parts at the sight of any distressed or miserable object. It causes revolting action in the innermost being to bring deliverance from such unlawful and inhuman suffering…” This description redefines compassion as a catalyst for action.
  • He healed their sick – the Christian faith states that Jesus was a physical and spiritual healer of anyone who asked, which is why so many people mobbed him wherever he went without Facebook, Twitter or a 4G network.  Based on the scriptures, healing people was one of Jesus’ core competencies.

In light of that dissection, here are the three steps that Jesus successfully modeled in the face of an extreme example of injustice that can be applied to virtually any unjust scenario.

  1. Remove yourself from the immediate situation – this step enables you to consider the best course of action absent the consequences of a hasty or emotional decision.
  2. Keep your compassion – even though you have stepped away from the situation, keep that compassionate fire burning inside, don’t let it die and steel yourself to act for the person or group who can’t act for themselves.
  3. Do what you do best – harness your skills, talents, energy, vision, and effort in combination with the aforementioned fiery compassion doing what you do best against the injustice.

These steps worked for Jesus especially when you consider that the only reason anyone discusses the historical figure of King Herod at all, is as a passing mention within the larger meta-narrative of the Jewish carpenter.

With that in mind, I will hustle and do what I do to help those in need – in direct opposition to those in the wrong.

Has anything ever moved you emotionally to the point where you had to do something whether it was for a family member, friend, stranger or animal?  What happened?

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