In the middle of the First Century AD the Apostle Paul sent a letter to the church in Philippi. He wrote, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
I don’t follow that advice often enough. But, every once in a while somebody does something exceptional and you can’t help but notice.
Like the Pease brothers. One has cerebral palsy. The other competes in Ironman events. So, they competed together. One brother helped the other, whether on land or water.
And I am in awe.
What love! What strength! What guts and determination and discipline!
My first instinct was to wish that more people were like that. And then I slowly began to notice similar traits in people all around me.
My daughter, Melanie, wrote a tribute this week to the heroes of September 11. It was a beautiful reminder of ordinary people who rise to the occasion.
You don’t have to go to New York to find them. No, you’ll find them in Zebulon if a student confides in her teacher that she has been abused at home.
Try to commit a burglary in Peachtree City. Chances are that before you leave the driveway neighbors have called the police and they are on the way.
We have law enforcement officers all over this circuit who set aside concerns for their own safety to protect us. Other first responders risk their lives to save ours.
Vladimir Putin of Russia wrote an editorial on the New York Times website scolding Americans. He wrote, “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional.”
It’s also extremely dangerous to ignore the stark truth.
The Pease brothers, 911 heroes, educators who protect children, neighbors who look out for each other and courageous local first responders—they are exceptional. There are millions of Americans who are exceptional in their own way.
And, lest the world forget, so is the United States Military.