October 12, 2015
Be careful when picking heroes.
Every aspect of life operates with the same basic ground rules: pick a category, and you can populate the space. The players come in-order, on-cue: first, the Originator (syn: creator, discoverer, pioneer, innovator); these are the few who live “to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before” (Star Trek).
Next on scene are the Organizers (syn: coordinator, designer, developer, arranger, facilitator); these come after the Originators – once the risks have been resolved and the opposition has been suppressed – and help to civilize the pioneer’s New Frontier. The Originator lived in tents; the Organizer builds buildings – with their name on the cornerstone – in a declaration of permanence that bespeaks their ability to mobilize the community toward the erection of edifice.
Last in line are the Operators (syn: everyone else) who come long after the discoveries of the Originators or the constructions of the Organizers. They live in environments that exist only because of those who have come before them, but live as if the domain must have created itself – forgetting their forebears – or, worse, denouncing the innovators for their human foibles.
It’s only been 523 years since Columbus spotted one of the small islands in the Bahamas, making landfall the next day and declaring the New World on behalf of Spain, his sponsor. Just 445 years later – in 1937 – Columbus Day was declared a National Holiday in the United States.
But now, in the 21st Century, holidays introduce controversy. For some, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving highlight what they brand as “Western Imperialism,” and denounce the resultant conquest of the peoples already inhabiting the newly-discovered territories. Efforts to transform October 12 to become “Indigenous People’s Day” are underway in communities across the country.
One person’s hero is another person’s villain in the revisionist world of the modern era. It brings a challenging question to the table: are the significant milestones of the past best remembered, or renounced?
Don’t go to an Indian reservation in America’s southwest today looking for a Columbus Day picnic. Don’t walk into a Microsoft Store looking for posters promoting Steve Jobs (the movie). Don’t call your local synagogue – or, City Hall – to see if they have plans for a Christmas program. Don’t look for fireworks extravaganzas in England on July 4th. Don’t circulate among the crowd – hundreds of thousands – who assembled in Philadelphia two weeks ago for mass with the Pope and ask if they plan to celebrate Reformation Day – honoring Tyndale, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and their peers – on October 31st . One person’s hero is another’s villain.
Originators live with risk. In their lifetime, they flirt with utter failure when they venture into territory that others would never explore. Most pioneers end up with more arrows in their chest than medals around their neck. Even winners can’t declare victory with certainty: long after their efforts have become beneficial to others, their motives or outcomes will often be reexamined and renounced.
The contract for Kingdom Originators has some important fine print: “They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11: 37-40).
Thank God for the Originators! May the Kingdom Originators continue to lead the way into the future!