With Thanksgiving 2020 on top of us like one of those turkeys released over Cincinnati in the turkey drop episode from WKRP, one cannot help but dwell fondly on the memories of holidays past. The memories that I cherish the most are those from family gatherings filled with music and stories, especially stories told by my two older brothers. The diversity of topics was endless, always comical and infused with just a little bit of Blue Ridge rural magic.
Stories of riding on the back of a Ford Model A “peach flat” to play little league baseball, trying to persuade our dad’s turkeys from attempting to board the school bus that my siblings rode to Skyland Elementary, or receiving bicycles for Christmas on the day of the biggest ice storm in recorded Dark Corner history, each story would make the average suburban helicopter parent cringe at the apparent lack of parental oversight. Such were the stories told by my two older brothers.
Now keep in mind that my brothers were 16 and 12 years older than me respectively. I might have been idolizing them slightly but their story telling talents have stood the test of time.
Every once in a while my oldest brother told stories about his time in the Boy Scouts and the camping trips to Camp Old Indian up near Poinsett Bridge. Thank goodness that the stories never alluded to the type of trouble that the Boy Scouts of America face today.
Over 100,000 individuals have joined a lawsuit against the Scouts alleging sexual abuse making it by far the largest sexual abuse scandal in the United States. The lawsuit forced the Scouts into bankruptcy making it another bedrock organization – along with various schools, religious organizations and other youth focused charities – who offered moral training in exchange for trust and ended up violating both. The Scouts claim that bankruptcy will put them in a better position to recompense their victims.
Which begs the question: how can an organization that has broken the trust of so many victims know how to make even one individual whole? Who can truly calculate the cost of the pain endured over a lifetime by one boy who was abused by an adult while those in charge looked the other way?
To get an idea of the emotional cost, I recently viewed a film entitled Retaliation. Let me say up front that the film does not make for easy viewing. Originally completed in 2017 under the name Romans but just now released in the United States, the film shows the brutal life-long impact on a middle-aged adult male who as a child was raped by his priest. The film’s title and trailer suggest that it is a revenge movie but it is much more about redemption than retaliation. It depicts how the violation of trust seeps into every facet of this man’s life. The surprising final 10 minutes of the film show why the film was originally entitled Romans (referring to Romans 12:17-21).
As we begin the holidays with Thanksgiving after a dangerous and divided 2020, we would be prudent to reflect upon what this passage from Romans says:
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in doing so thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.
Wise words for to be thankful for.