Madison County Opinion...

JULY 24, 2002


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
July 24, 2002

Frankly Speaking

A sermon on love
The last time I wrote a sermon, I was invited to preach. Can you imagine that? Public speaking, other than telling well-rehearsed tall tales, is not my strong point. I am much more comfortable sitting alone in front of my computer putting words on the screen.
This sermon is not so likely to produce an invitation, because it is not strictly biblical. But to me, it contains a major truth.
The first of The Paradoxical Commandments by Kent M. Keith says, “People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.” This reflects Jesus’ instructions when he said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Love is the only power that can stop the violence, end terrorism and restore the quality of life we deserve.
Now, here is the paradoxical nature of love: When God created this universe, he developed a series of dual manifestations based on the presence or absence of certain energies. For example, light and darkness. Light is the active principle. Darkness is the absence of light. If it is dark, you can turn on a light bulb. But if it is light, you can not turn on a dark bulb. You have to put up dark curtains to block the light.
The same is true of heat and cold. Cold is the absence of heat. You can add heat to a room by building a fire. To cool a room, you have to extract heat.
So it is with love and hate. Love is the active principle. Hate exists only where there is no love.
Every week, my e-mail contains messages from various hate groups. Some express hatred for Jews, another for Arabs. White groups express hatred for blacks, and black groups are filled with hate for whites, especially Southern whites. Protestants hate Catholics and vice-versa. In my opinion, every one of these cases results in a lack of love by the writers. If they followed God’s rule that we love one another, they could not issue these hate filled rants.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we cannot criticize each other. I frequently offer “constructive criticism” to various groups and individuals, especially politicians. I have been known to use satire and humor to make my point. But I never speak from hatred. I even extend Christian love to King Roy, while actively opposing most of his political plans.
If you love, you cannot hate. If you harbor hatred in your heart for any people, it is only because your heart is not filled with brotherly love. No matter how illogical, unreasonable and self-centered people may be, love them anyway.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
July 24, 2002

In Other Words

Remembering
a kindness
I got a phone call last week, the kind everyone dreads but we all know are bound to come.
My cousin, Perry (we call him Junior), called to tell me his son, Billy, had died.
Billy was only 47 years old and the only child of Junior and his wife Betty.
Once I got over the initial shock, my mind immediately conjured up a mental image of Billy — not of the 47 year old man — but of the 16-year-old boy he once was.
I didn’t know Billy very well really, the times we saw each other were relatively few.
He grew up south of Atlanta while I grew up here in Madison County and visits were often few and far between.
But the thing that stands out in my mind about him is a particular visit he and his parents paid my mother and me a short time after my daddy died.
I was going through one of the worst periods of my life, heading into adolescence and still deeply affected by Daddy’s death. I was also fearful because my mother was in ill health.
On this visit Billy had just turned 16 and gotten his driver’s license.
Now most 16 year old guys wouldn’t have cared for the company of a little girl - especially one who was quiet and withdrawn - (some might have said sullen) but apparently Billy wasn’t the average 16 year old.
He was more than kind to me. He played games with me, took me for short rides in their car (as far as his dad would let him) and just hung out with me. I had a great time, and if Billy wasn’t as thrilled with my company as I was with his, he certainly never let on.
They stayed with us for a long weekend and when they left, I cried.
It was a number of years later before I saw Billy again. By then we were both married and had children and I doubt Billy even remembered his family’s visit, or his kindness to a young, unhappy cousin.
But I did, and I always will.
I was still thinking of Billy and of that time when I sat down last weekend with my daughter Miranda to watch a movie our pastor had recommended called “Pay it Forward.”
In the movie, a seventh grade social studies teacher gives his class an unusual assignment - find a way to do something that will change the world.
More than an assignment, it’s an attempt to make the students more aware and involved in the world around them.
One boy, Trevor, takes the project to heart, inventing a concept called “pay it forward.” His plan is simple - do a good deed for someone (something that requires some sort of sacrifice on the part of the giver) - and then ask the recipient to not return the favor to you, but instead to “pay it forward” to three other people. In turn, each of those three should do a good turn for three other people, and ask each one of them to also pay it forward to three more people - and so and so on, in theory resulting in a kind of pyramid effect that would ultimately change the world.
The movie goes on to detail Trevor’s own efforts to help three people - a homeless man, the teacher who gave him his assignment, and a friend. All his deeds have far-reaching effects, most of which he is not even aware of.
Each of us can follow that concept, not just for three people, but for those we meet day to day.
Just like Trevor in the movie and my cousin Billy, we never know how one small kind thing we do might affect the life of someone else.
And we can all do something - even if it’s just to give a smile to someone who needs one.
You know, Billy may be gone but the memory of his kindness will live on in me; and I hope that in remembering it, maybe I too can “pay it forward.”
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.

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