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Charles Ramsey – A Real American Hero?

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“I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Either she homeless, or she got problems. That’s the only reason she run to a black man.” And with those words Charles Ramsey is thrust into stardom. From the tube to YouTube is colored with Charles Ramsey candor. His rugged charm is inescapable. Thoughts – unvarnished. Feelings – unfiltered.  Charles Ramsey is raw to the bone. I think this is one of the appeals of Charles Ramsey.

Without diminishing the fact that 3 women who were rescued from 10 years of hell in a home dungeon, out of the grips of a ‘mad man’, Ariel Castro, I want to focus on Charles Ramsey’s claim to fame. It is not that he sought fame, but it is more conferred on. We the viewers claim him as our knight in shining armour who performed this heroic feat. He is the people’s knight – unassuming and unabashed. Far from the mythic character that we usually see of our heroes, this “Dark Knight” does not come to us as a heralded doctor, shrewd lawyer, or courageous firefighter. He comes as simply the guy next door – the guy or gal that we always want to be but feel ashamed to be outside our home.

The pressure to live up to be someone who you are not can be very deflating – no doubt imprisoning. Where all the images you see in the media are people with the million-dollar smile, suave hair do, and picturesque career of an entertainer, the allure builds to take on the mythic persona: beautiful, strong and flawless. Unfortunately, beauty is fleeting; strength is taxing; and flawlessness is elusive. Nevertheless we pursue these elusive qualities, and the bars within are strengthened. The inner imprisonment is lengthened.  Charles Ramsey is our momentary breath of fresh air from a regular hero. He is our hero, akin to John Hancock, to help release us.

You remember the 2008 film Hancock where Will Smith starred as a bumbling superhero? We may have chuckled a bit when hearing that term: a bumbling superhero. It seems so oxymoronic. Superheroes are supposed to be perfect, sober and virtuous. In a word: godlike. They meet Plato’s idea of the Ideal. Hancock is definitely not, and so is ours.

Charles Ramsey is a figure that runs and flies against our contemporary norms. Unconsciously, this is what we are seeking, and maybe Charles Ramsey is a valve to let us release this pressure – a pressure to perform to an unattainable standard. Thus, we are drawn to Charles hearty laugh, folksy persona and Black jargon. We are drawn to his frankness. Yes, we are drawn to him. We finally find a hero, our GI Joe who says what is on his mind; who bears his chest; and who could care less what others may think of him. He is not a devolved Neanderthal but an involved human who saw an opportunity to love beyond his comfort zone and help those resilient women out of the Castro house of horrors. So he speaks. We listen. This is what we yearn to be, but many of us are imprisoned and would like to be set free. Free to be…free to be like Charles Ramsey – our American hero!

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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Love – A Cause Worth Dying For!

I remembered talking to a woman about marriage not so long ago. The woman indicated that she thought about getting married a few times in her previous relationships. At the end, she decided against it, because she wanted to live life still. I replied to her that marriage is not about losing freedom. However, I concurred there are few things that one would have to give up, because a new life is taken on so to speak. I asked her if she is with someone presently and she replied yes. I sensed from her reply that there is a desire for marriage and beginning a family. However, there were some reservations holding her back, because of her view of marriage. Her view (and many others) of marriage is the phase of life where one settles down to have children. I indicated to her that she should not view marriage as a time to just settle down by virtue of a marital certificate. Marriage however should be viewed as the courageous life that you are willing to pursue, fight, and love for the lover’s sake.

The only way you will know that you are ready for marriage if you are willing to literally die for your partner – your love. If you (or your partner) cannot say that, you should continue to live your free life, because you maybe are just wasting your time (and tax-payer dollars for a divorce). A marriage of that nature would be – at best – unfulfilling and worst – ending in divorce.

Let me clarify what I mean by dying for your partner. They are seen in the countless stories of police officers that get wounded in the line of duty to save the innocent who are in danger; firefighters who literally jump into burning houses to save the lives of the faceless; and soldiers who throw their bodies on landmines to save the wounded from the enemy’s camp. These are courageous men and women who put their bodies on the line. Many suffer paralysis, burns, sickness and death because of their love for people. They are willing die for people who they do not know – strangers. How much more of a burden for us who are in an intimate relationship? Are we willing to die for our love?

Please understand that the spotlight of intimacy shines at its brightest during the scenes of courage and selfless acts between lovers. In the face of bullets of criticism, the torpedoes of insult, and the bombs of rejection from your hostile love does not change the fact that the cause still remains great, significant and worthy. This leads to the critical questions: Am I ready to be hero/heroine when the spotlight is on me? Will I give of myself at all cost? Would I put my body on the line for my love till the point of pending death? This is the test for marriage readiness – nothing more, nothing less. It is the ability to translate the heart of a soldier into this fragile and sensitive world of relationships and marriage. If I am willing to do the extraordinary, these consistent and ordinary acts of kindness will be always possible:

1)     Walking away from quarrels and fights in order to find peace with one another.

2)     Giving your partner affection during times of mutual discomfort or fatigue.

3)     Encouraging your partner to spend time with their friends who are positive to their life.

4)     Creating days of undivided attention for your partner.

5)     Getting involved in your partner’s activity that you might not always enjoy doing.

6)     Resisting the urge of being unfaithful to your partner.

7)     Endeavoring to see the world from your partner’s point of view.

Here is the principle to remember. If I am willing to do the more challenging and courageous act of dying for my partner, then every other selfless act or sacrifice becomes trivial with respect to the magnitude of dying.

I want you to imagine this with me. Put your hand on your heart. Feel it beat for a minute. Imagine if your heart was not beating. Would you agree nothing else matters then? You are aware if that heart stops beating at any point; your life is at the cusp of death. Similarly, if you believe your partner is your heart but they are not beating for you – guess what – you are having a heart attack. If your partner does not beat for you, your relationship will eventually wither and die. Again, nothing else truly matters then. The same is true with you. I ask you to remember this connection, because no heart lives for itself. It shares its life and many ways gives up its life for the body to grow.

Relationship especially marriage is the school where we are taught the unending course of selflessness. It is the profession that we learn to risk our lives, so love can live. Now I ask you… are you willing to die for your love to always live? Simply, is it a love worth dying for…soldier?

~ Written By: Denley McIntosh

P.S.

I think about the tragic shooting in Colorado as a contemporary and evocative example where we heard surreal tales of heroic and sacrificial effort mightily exuded through “ordinary” men and women to protect their beloveds from death’s door. Seeing and feeling the pain of death has not beclouded the light of love refracted through the prismatic stories of these courageous individuals. I must say, within the dissonance of the pain and sadness, it was beautiful to hear the love these fallen had died for. My heart goes out to them and others alike.

 

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