Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Out of Bounds Congress

The other day I was riding on a side street through town and a truck pulled up beside me and the older gentleman inside asked, very politely, "Why don't you ride on the bike path? Seems like it would be a lot safer." At the moment I did not have a great response, but at the bottom line, I was riding on the street because I can. You see, in my town many of the bike paths are wide, straight, and smooth. In fact, there really is not a good reason not to use them in some places. Of course, when there are no paths, or if there are other people on them that are not going as fast as me, then it doesn't make sense. But generally speaking, "just because I can" is not a good reason for doing something.

I am deeply troubled by some of the voices that I hear coming from the halls of Congress. An untimely death, for whatever reason, is a tragedy. But the floor of the House is no place for the hateful rhetoric surrounding the recent untimely death in Florida. I actually heard our elected Representatives naming the act a murder and an execution. Were they there? Did they see? Have they determined that they will be both jury and judge in this matter?

Certainly it may turn out that this young man's death was a murder and that someone will be charged, tried, and convicted. But law enforcement (of this kind) is generally a state and local matter--not a federal matter. And law enforcement is an Executive branch function, not a legislative branch responsibility. It is tragic enough that this boy died an early death, why do some in Congress see the need to add insult to the tragedy by twisting a terrible loss into a political sound bite--just because they can.

Maybe the interests of justice would be better served if those who are responsible for law enforcement were allowed to do their job in an environment that has not been tainted by Washington's inflammatory rhetoric. Justice may move more slowly than some politicians would like, but trial and conviction in the courtroom of the sound bite is a perversion of justice that the blindfolded Lady would not recognize--and would never condone. At worst it is a lynching of sorts, and at best it is treading the downward edge of a slippery slope.

If a grand jury sees fit to indict, and a jury finds evidence to convict, then a court should sentence. But the House floor is neither the grand jury room, the courtroom, nor the judge's bench. I can only hope that when the TV cameras get pointed at the next tragedy and the microphones turn to new sound bites, that Lady Justice can resume her quiet, steady quest for a right and just outcome.

Pressing on,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Headwinds and Tailwinds

The weather has been tremendous for this time of year--allowing an earlier start to the outdoor riding season. The warm weather also brings with it rather strong winds. The other day I knew that the winds were out of the SSW at about 25 miles per hour--stiff by most measures. So I decided to head into the wind for the outbound portion of the ride and to get the wind at my back for the final leg.

It was tough. I am always surprised at how the effect of wind on a cyclist seems so much stronger than I recall as a runner. I found myself battling the headwind over the course of the first 13 miles or so, with only an occasional turn of the road that created a crosswind. Much of that time I was consoled only by the thought that when I headed for home on the final leg of the ride, the tailwind would be sweet. My attitude would probably have been much different if I could not have been confident that there would be a strong tailwind section of the ride. If I was uncertain about whether I could trade my extra effort now for a push from behind later, it would have been much harder to continue to push on through the route that I had chosen.

We all know that sometimes life is difficult--and far more challenging than a stiff headwind. Economic uncertainty, relational collapse, environmental catastrophe--not to mention the daily struggles to hold it all together--are daunting life experiences. How can we stay strong and press through? By knowing that there will be a tailwind. We may not know exactly when. But there will be one.

It was the Creator of all that is who said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." And who also assures us, "All things work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose."

After making the turn, the tailwind-assisted ride was thrilling (including a half mile stretch at the fastest speed that I have ever ridden). But as I made my way to the end of the ride, I realized that while the tailwind section was fun, the headwind section was somehow more satisfying. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the relief that the tailwind afforded. But the effort into the headwind made the tailwind so much sweeter. And being confident that the tailwind was coming made it much easier to be OK with battling the headwind.

Pressing on,