Social media has been a strange place since the POTUS election. Have you noticed anyone online —
- Attack a Facebook “friend” or family member over politics?
- Post a meme, image, or video just to discredit others’ views?
- Robotically spew biased political party “talking points” rather than engage in calm, reasoned, fact-based dialogue?
- Pontificate and sermonize instead of asking questions to seek greater understanding?
- Express ginormous outrage and concern on the behalf of strangers living halfway around the world when there are people in need in our own backyard?
There is no political message in that last question, so please don’t take umbrage. I’m simply baffled by the substantial time and emotional energy expended on social media that could be used differently.
Yes, like you, QBQ, Inc. and the Miller clan believe in compassion. However, is it possible there are people a mile from me who would be greatly blessed if they received just a slice of the concern for humankind expressed on Facebook and Twitter?
Let’s turn to coach, pastor, and politician Jimmy Miller—a man who never touched a computer or smartphone in his life—for a possible answer …
The Man (1921-2002)
In our 1960 photo, my father, Erie James (Jimmy) Miller, Jr., is on the right. In bed is Carlton Orr, one of my dad’s wrestlers at Cornell University. The summer after Carlton’s freshman year—when I was in diapers—polio struck.
Paralyzed from the neck down, doctors gave Carlton five years. He lived until the Fall of 1979, my senior year at Cornell.
Throughout my childhood, Dad would say, “Come on, let’s go see Carlton!” and we’d make the short drive into downtown Ithaca, NY.
We did that a lot.
The amount of time coach Jimmy dedicated to Carlton was staggering. He cared for his wrestlers at Cornell like they were his sons. Peter Woodworth of Winona, MN, one of coach Jimmy’s “boys” in the 1960s, told me decades later, “Your dad and my Marine sergeant were the two most important mentors in my life.”
Beyond Cornell, pastor Jimmy cared for congregants and community members so much I sometimes ponder if this Bible passage was written about him:
“I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”
My father routinely visited “nursing homes,” hospitals, county jails, and “shut-ins” to bring his positive personality to those who needed joy—badly. Even now, when I return to Ithaca, people say, “I miss your dad’s smile.”
Later, when he was elderly, he’d appear at a long-term care center in town to play piano for the “old folks.” 🙂
Jimmy Miller wasn’t perfect—but he was special. Without knowing it, he set an example for each of us living in this age of politically-charged social media. In all he did, there was no political agenda. Though a conservative thinker and elected Republican “County Representative,” he served people for one reason:
Caring for people is the right thing to do.
The Alternative to the Social Media Show
Instead of debating which political party shows the most compassion or who is right about this or that, might it be better to turn off our tech toys and invest our time, talent, and treasure into a Carlton in our local community?
I’m thinking this would add far more value to the world than sending out one more “gotcha” post or engaging in yet another completely un-winnable Internet-based, mud-slinging, angry argument.
Do you agree? I know my dad would. Call me biased, but that’d be good enough for me.
So, answering the question in this blog’s title, “What would Jimmy do with media?”—he wouldn’t have the time. My dad would be too busy caring for Carltons.
More about Jimmy here.
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