The Batkid saves the day! And all of us, as well.

It’s been about a week since we in the San Francisco Bay Area were moved and inspired by the story of Batkid.  Actually, it wasn’t just those of us in the Bay Area. Batkid became a national sensation.  His story was publicized all over the national and world media.  If you somehow managed to miss the story, Batkid is actually Miles Scott, a 5 year-old leukemia patient who was the recipient of a spectacular day from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  More of his story can be seen here.  And a bigger look at his day as Batkid can be seen here

For those of us living near San Francisco, the story was unavoidable.  Every local news outlet covered it and provided updates throughout the day.  Facebook and Twitter buzzed constantly with words of praise and support for The Batkid.  My personal Facebook feed was jammed with pictures, videos, and words of encouragement for and about The Batkid.  The positive energy was thicker than the San Francisco fog.  Everybody was on board and feeling inspired by Miles.  And everyone wanted to let Miles know how much they loved him, a five year-old kid battling a life-threatening illness.  Even the most pessimistic and negative of my Facebook friends were swept up by the story (or were smart enough to keep quiet for a day).  And a week later, that energy still lingers.

This isn’t the first time a story like this has received national media attention.  But for some reason, this one felt different.  I think my friend Jeff tapped into this with a comment he made on Facebook during Miles’ big day:

“There are lots of posts on the batkid thing. But what really strikes me is how GOOD i felt all day. Imagine if we harnessed this kind of love/support more often. It’s truly transformative in people.”

Transformation.  I think that is what Miles Scott and his wish offered to people.  Of course it was transformative for Miles, who received the experience of childhood magic after fighting leukemia since he was 18 months old.  But it was also transformative for the rest of us, to be able to participate in and be elevated by his story, whether we were directly involved on simply cheering Miles on from afar and sharing the story with others.  That kind of harnessing of love is impossible to avoid.  It grabs you.  It makes you feel good.  It makes everyone around you feel good.  It lifts people.  It grows your soul.  It transforms you.

Of all the words spoken by Jesus in the gospels, I am more and more drawn to focus on his comments regarding the question of which are the most important commandments.  The gospel of Mark records his answer this way;

“The most important one is this….Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”

To me, those words of Jesus boil down like this – love God, love others.  Those are the most important commandments, according to Jesus.  Why?  I think it’s because when we do these things well, it leads to emotional healing and transformation – both in us, and in those around us.  And even if you don’t buy into God, you can still buy into the transformative, elevating power of loving others well.  Miles Scott reminded us of that.

When something as good and positive as the Batkid story happens, I think we want to be involved because, as my friend Jeff pointed out in his comment, it makes us feel good.  And we want to feel good, to feel that kind of love that elevates and transforms.  We desire to be involved with something greater than ourselves, to be a part of a community of relationships.  But all too often, the stories that permeate our news feeds are about something wholly opposite.  In the week immediately following the story of The Batkid, news broke of racially motivated hate crimes at San Jose State University.  A 18 year-old high school student was senselessly set on fire on a Oakland transit bus.  More stories have surfaced about a disgusting “game” being played by teens called Knockout, which is nothing more than cowardly cold-cocking unsuspecting victims on the street (I’m pretty sure that’s actually criminal assault and battery, and not a game).  These are acts of hate and selfishness.  They are inspired by fear and shame, and they represent something broken inside of us.  It’s a brokenness that can be softened and then healed when confronted by the kind of selfless, others-based love that I believe Jesus was talking about.  That kind of love can eliminate fear and shame.  We saw a glimpse of that on November 15th.

Jeff supposed that if we harnessed that love and support more regularly, it could transform people.  I agree.  Everyday, we have opportunities to facilitate that change.  And it doesn’t need to be a viral event to be meaningful.  We all have people in our lives who are going through something difficult.  And if you don’t think you do, you do.  Loving well doesn’t require complete knowledge or understanding of someone’s pain.  It doesn’t need to be broadcast on the nightly news.  It just needs to happen.  It might be as simple as just being present for someone. It doesn’t even need to be about helping someone through a difficult time.  It can mean smiling at the barista who just made my coffee and saying “thank you.”  It could mean holding the door open for the person walking into a building behind me.  Because everyone has their baggage that we don’t see, and the little gestures of love we are able to offer may have a deeper impact in someone than we will ever know about.

Maybe it means I need to forgive someone for something they did that I’ve been harboring a grudge over.  Maybe I need to have a difficult conversation that I’ve been avoiding.  And when I do, maybe I need to show kindness and thoughtfulness, rather than anger and vitriolic self-righteousness.

Maybe I need to stop hating the right.  Or the left.  Or the middle.  Or the elite.  Or the apathetic.  Maybe I need to stop judging so easily.

None of this is easy because I am broken, too.  We all are.  It takes work to be good at loving God and others well.  And maybe the hardest part of all is, I need to let others love me also.  Fear and shame exists in all of us.  And it cripples our ability to love and be loved.  And I think the reason why Miles Scott, the Batkid, had such a huge impact on us (even if just for a day) is because he reminded us how powerful and transformative selfless love can be.

Batkid did save the day last week.  For all of us.  And I hope we carry the lessons of love that we learned last Friday into our everyday lives.  And I hope the world is transformed because of it.  Thank you, Batkid.  Thanks, Miles.  Now let’s go do some loving.

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~ by themattmorrisshow on November 24, 2013.

2 Responses to “The Batkid saves the day! And all of us, as well.”

  1. Great post, Matt! I only followed the Batkid story from afar, but want to watch some of the the things you posted.

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