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Nothing in it for him, only kindness.

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September 09, 2018

by Tom Locke, TMF President

Nothing in it for him, only kindness.

When McCain was undergoing physical therapy after returning from Vietnam, another patient was a 12-year-old girl, Ann Jones, who was dying from a brain tumor. McCain went out of his way to comfort Ann, arriving early to chat with her and dropping by her home to cheer her up.

After Ann died, her mother, Sylvia, lost touch with McCain, but years later she choked up as she told me how the war hero had taken the time to reach out to her daughter.

“I’m a Democrat, and I’m not trying to promote John McCain politically,” she told me. “But it tells you something about the character of this man. There was nothing in it for him to do this. It was only kindness.”

The above story was taken from a piece by journalist Nick Kristof, writing about the life of John McCain. 

These are times when so often, opinions and relationships with others are formed around political affiliation or where the other comes down on a certain issue. From the political world, these issues might concern immigration, gun control, the Russian investigation, or individual political leaders. An example of this fallacy might be to think that if you are against gun control (or for it, for that matter), then that tells me all I need to know about you and there is no need for us to be in relationship. Sadly, similar examples of this behavior can also be found in the church world. 

A few years ago, TMF adopted the tag line of “TMF, Stewarding Potential.”  When we speak of this, it is not about some inward looking “potential” for TMF to grow to a certain size or reach a certain level of acclaim, but for the world, our communities, our congregations and institutions, and for us, individually, to reach our best selves, our fullest potential, as seen through the eyes of God.

Back to McCain. My guess is that God was most pleased with him (as is true with each of us), when he was doing those things that reflected his respect for the goodness of others and his love of humanity, as described in the story. In tribute after tribute from friends, family, colleagues and writers, they noted that what they most admired and will be most missed about McCain is not his votes or voice on political positions, but his integrity, his respect for others, his desire to make a difference in the world, and his hope that our country would always be a standard bearer for the most noble of values.

An essential element of the world God desires, the world that God imagines, is that we form relationships with one another, not based on shared political opinion, but on shared values, and that those values be of the highest order; that we truly love one another, all of “one another,” and not just those with whom we share opinions. 

We all know these things, but occasionally we need the reminder. Perhaps that is the blessing of this good man’s death, that we receive the reminder of the power and necessity of personal values. Nothing less than the accomplishment of God’s world depends on it. 


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