Forest fires had recently burned thousands of acres in the Jefferson National Forest. Temperatures in the 90's for weeks. No rain for almost two months, and the forest was dry and brittle. We were in a drought. All Localities had imposed open fire restrictions, (OFR), and the US Forestry Service had closed off sections of the Appalachian Trail, (AT), to hikers. Officials were giving citations to anyone who didn't comply, and in some instances had pulled hikers off the trail and put them in jail.
The, OFR were making it extremely hard on hikers who do not carry stoves, and cook their dinner over an open campfire. However, most heeded the OFR and asked for assistance from those of us who do carry stoves. Others hiked off trail and bought a stove, or had one sent to a mail drop at a nearby post office on their route. A few, (there's always a few), decided not to heed the OFR and build fires anyway; putting themselves, the forest, nearby towns, and all hikers on the AT in jeopardy.
I had just hiked through a burned out section of the AT reopened to hikers. Instead of the lush "Green Tunnel" that is the AT, I trudged through a black and grey landscape that was more akin the moon. With a bandana across my mouth and nose, I hiked through this ashy wonderland, amazed at the difference one day and one careless act of litter will make.
It was at the end of that long hot and humid and dusty day when I came upon another hiker building a fire to cook his dinner. I was amazed and just a little bit pissed off.
"What's up?", I asked.
"Not much", He said. "Cooking dinner."
"You north bound or south bound?" I asked.
"North bound", he answered.
"Did you walk through the burn zone?" I asked.
"Yep, what a mess." He answered.
"Then may I ask you a question?.
"Shoot." He said
"What the @#$^% are you doing?"
He looked back at me with that far away look you get from someone who is completely clueless to a given situation.
"We are in a drought. You just walked through a battle ground, and your building a fire? Do you know there is a fire ban? Do you understand how dangerous it is?", I said in rapid fire.
"I'm being careful", he answered.
"Put it out. I'll cook your dinner."
"Nah man, I got this."
"Put it out"
"You gonna make me?
"Yes sir I am"
WOW! Some people amaze me. They know the rules, they know the boundaries, yet they continue to step over the line and do the wrong things.
I'm not saying I have never broken a rule or two thousand, but when the rules are very simple and are so completely common sense that even a three year old understands...
What seems to be the problem?
Inundated by media and advertising, we have become a selfish nation. People no longer look after or take care of one another because, "it's all about Me". We have become selfish nation and are only concerned with what we can get for ourselves. People do what they want to do without any thought to rules, laws, or simple morality.
That's where you and I come in.
Those of us who have moral standards and integrity, regardless of religious or non religious persuasion. Those of us who are in a position to make a difference in our world. Those of us who just get it, can make a difference.
We must be accountable for our actions even when things go wrong.
We must care more about others than they care about us.
We must be kind to people who have been cruel to us.
We must give more than we get.
We must fight when we are already injured, bloody, and sore.
We must lead when no one else will following.
We must make the call when we are afraid.
We must keep pushing forward no matter what is hiding in the weeds.
We must "Own It".
In the Bible, John the Baptist "Owned It" and preached what was right and his head was served up on a silver platter because of it.
And they were given baptism by him in the river Jordan, saying openly that they had done wrong. But when he saw a number of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, Offspring of snakes, at whose word are you going in flight from the wrath to come? Let your change of heart be seen in your works: And say not to yourselves, We have Abraham for our father; because I say to you that God is able from these stones to make children for Abraham. And even now the axe is put to the root of the trees; every tree then which does not give good fruit is cut down, and put into the fire. Truly, I give baptism with water to those of you whose hearts are changed; but he who comes after me is greater than I, whose shoes I am not good enough to take up: he will give you baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire: In whose hand is the instrument with which he will make clean his grain; he will put the good grain in his store, but the waste will be burned up in the fire which will never be put out. Mat 3:6-12 BBE
Jesus "Owned It", and did what was right and was hated for it.
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in
the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that
sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of
prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. Mat 21:12-1313
He also "Owned It" when preached what was right, with more compassion and understanding than any of us will ever know.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." Mat 5:1-11
Jesus "Owned it" when he gave us these two very simple rules to remember and we all know what happened to him.
"... Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." Mat 22:37
"... Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Mat 22:39
And if we would only follow these two very simple rules, all the rest is just sprinkles.
We can also look to an alternative source and find similar ownership.
"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."
From time to time we all find ourselves on the front lines making tough decisions. We must make the hard choices and do the right thing. We must take ownership and make tough decisions as managers, supervisors, coaches, and most importantly as parents.
It is not always easy; many times it is hard, but we must take a stand for what is right and lead by example.
We must take ownership of our little piece of the world, and be good stewards to our families, our church, our nation and our planet.
If you "Own It" you can make a difference.
Now... Go out there and "Own It"!