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Thu, Aug. 05

Haddad: Try sharing a Rave instead of a Rant

When I was young, an author named L. Tom Perry shared a story that later played a role in my choices about giving and taking offense.

The story he shared was about a young man, around my age at the time. Like me, he was trying to figure out what to do with his life. He decided to serve a mission for his church. I respect people who make choices to serve others, especially at a young age, whether it’s to go on a church mission, serve in the military, or work in the Peace Corps or some other international service organization.

This young man, at 19, committed to two years of service in Brazil. He would not just be proselytizing, but also serving people in underprivileged areas, repairing roofs, helping with crops and irrigation, fixing fences, whatever was needed to assist those in need and follow the admonition to love his neighbor as himself.

The day he arrived the young man was assigned to a city away from the more populated regions. As he and a more experienced companion walked down the street they passed a church with a minister standing at the front door. Perry wrote, “As they walked by the church, the minister went in and called to his whole congregation to follow him out into the street. There they followed the missionaries and started calling them names; then they became more violent and started to throw rocks at them.”

Perry explained that the young man was excited about this experience. It was his first day there and already he was being stoned. But then, a large rock suddenly hit him squarely in the middle of the back, and his feeling changed to anger.

“Before entering the mission field he had been quite a baseball pitcher; and in the flush of anger he wheeled around, grabbed the first rock he could find on the ground, reared back in his famous pitching pose, and was just ready to let the rock fly at the crowd when suddenly he realized why he was there. He had not been sent all the way to Brazil to throw rocks at people.”

That last sentence in Perry’s story really struck me. The words have echoed in my mind many times throughout my life. We have not been sent to this Earth to throw rocks at people.

Perry continued, explaining that this thought changed the young man’s mind about throwing the stone back at the congregation. “But what was he to do with the rock in his hand? If he dropped it to the ground, they would think it a sign of weakness and probably continue to throw rocks at them. Yet he could not throw it at the crowd. Then he saw a telephone post some distance away. He reared back and let the rock fly directly at the telephone post, hitting it squarely in the middle. The people in the crowd took a couple of steps back. They suddenly realized that that rock probably could have hit any one of them right between the eyes. Their mood changed; instead of throwing rocks at the missionaries, they began to throw them at the telephone post.”

Perry explained that after this incident, every time the young man went down that street he was challenged to a rock-throwing contest. The rock-throwing contests led to discussions, friendships and service for the community members. Many years later the young man went back to serve in other capacities in that same area. Who would have thought that in the flash of a moment, when a young man refrained from throwing a stone in anger at another person, that lifelong friendships would be created?

Every Sunday our opinion page features a collection of submitted Rants and Raves from area residents. It allows readers to submit up to 40 words to express their thoughts on something they like or dislike. It’s also the only place in the paper where someone can express an opinion without signing their name to it. For this reason, we receive hundreds of Rants and Raves submissions each month, far more than we can print. There are also some that are not appropriate to print, as you might imagine.

In recent years we have seen more rants submitted than raves. It saddens me to think that there might be more people willing to anonymously criticize and find fault rather than praise and recognize the good things happening in our communities.

This column is an invitation to our readers to look around and consider if you can submit a rave rather than a rant.

Some rants are important, and the opinions expressed can lead to contrastive discussion, improvements and change. But life should not be predominantly about finding fault in others, being angry or pointing out motes in eyes. We have not been sent to this Earth to throw rocks at people.

Submit your raves online at wwwdcourier.com/rants-and-raves.

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