Last night Beth and I watched the bio-movie; “The Founder”, starring Michael Keaton. It is the story of Ray Croc, the “founder” of McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food chain. It is an interesting movie of how Croc took a hamburger stand, owned by the two McDonald’s brothers, and made it into a food empire.
At the beginning of the movie, Croc is a persistent, charismatic, but not completely successful restaurant equipment sales rep. While on the road he learns that a place in Bakersfield, California, has ordered six milk shake makers! He’s intrigued enough to find out what kind of restaurant needs this many and drives to their location. While there he sees the McDonald’s brothers “Speedy System” (where and how the workers are placed in the assembly area) and the unique layout of their restaurant which allows them to make “made to order” hamburgers in less than thirty seconds! Ray Croc is in awe and talks the brothers into letting him begin to sell franchises all over America. Initially, everything goes relatively smoothly but Ray Croc’s ambition, craving for money and fame, eventually drive him and the brothers apart. I won’t spoil the movie but it’s worth watching.
As I was reflecting on the story today I thought about vision and how it unites or divides people. It can be the vision of ourselves, family, community, church, organization, nation or world. Everyone has a vision of how things “should” be and some share the same vision while others oppose it. Competing visions can cause dissension and dissolution of connectedness and relationships.
Wisdom teaches us the more tightly we hold to our visions of things the more suffering we cause ourselves and others. Only when we are open and allow for the possibility of differing views can we be at peace with ourselves and others.
The other morning I took the dog outside for some “private” time and waited on the front porch for him to finish. He was taking an extra long so I started walking to make sure he was focused on the task at hand. However, as I stepped forward I walked into a spider web. It was on my face and I did the obligatory “spider web dance” everyone does where you throw your hands in the air, wipe your face and hands trying to get the sticky substance off your face and body. The web belonged to a small spider and the web was invisible until I walked into it.
I feel like our country and world has been walking into spider webs this week. Invisible, sticky, hard to avoid and get out of situations and circumstances. Things such as racial tensions which we avoid until we can’t have been front and center. Politics and how they divide us. History and its impact on our culture. Power, ego, arrogance, and leadership has stuck to those who are trying to direct and guide us. Mistakes, bad choices, negative thinking, biases, judgment, have all clung to us and seem impossible to get rid of.
Wisdom tells us that if we wish to know the true way we must be still, silent, at peace and humble. However, it seems impossible because new crises and threats emerge seemingly every day. There’s also another wisdom saying; “Be still for at least 30 minutes unless you are busy or in a hurry then sit still for an hour.”
I long for our world to simply be still, for a moment, and see the difference it could make.
“par·a·dox” –perəˌdäks – a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.
I listened to a speaker today talk about his father who was a Jewish prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. He talked about how his father and a German guard became friends over their interest in fishing.
One day the guard told him he was having troubles with his bowels and to go to the bathroom immediately. The speaker’s father was confused but listened, went to the bathroom and came out several minutes later to find all the other Jewish prisoners had been taken to one of the notorious gas chambers the Germans used to kill millions of Jewish people. His friend, the guard, upon seeing him said; “You are the only Jew left. You should leave. The speaker’s father walked out of the camp and went back to his home. “This is a paradox,” said the speaker. The German guard knew the other Jewish people, human beings, placed on the train were going to die but still chose to save his friend.
Human beings are walking, talking, breathing, skin encased paradoxes. We are tough to figure out. We do what we don’t want to do sometimes and don’t do what we should. We take stands for things which don’t really matter and shrink from the spotlight on the most important. Brennan Manning, one of my favorite authors, wrote; “I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.” He was a priest, an oblate, and a recovering alcoholic.
We are all paradoxes and have that in common with one another. There are a plethora of beliefs, convictions, and certainties we hold that unite us and divide us. However, we are also, every one of us, human beings and this truth should overcome everything else.