May 22nd, 2016
Hardly a month goes by without at least one email filled with beaux mots or insightful sayings. I enjoy most and wish that I could create some worth repeating.
I heard a few last Thursday spoken by presenters and winners at the 67th annual Christopher Awards. I’ve written here about different aspects of the awards over the years. I’ve been lucky to help promote them. The awards are presented to authors and illustrators as well as film, TV and Cable writers, producers and directors whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” The Christophers, rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity, is guided by the ancient Chinese proverb—“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness” which explains the gracious, uplifting atmosphere at the Awards.
Back to the sayings. One was “a tsunami in cultural change,” a powerful collection of words to describe the climate in which the series “When Calls the Heart,” [Sunday night on the Hallmark Channel], has nevertheless been successful—renewed for the fourth year and a winner of the Christopher Spirit Award. In the midst of the storm of self-centeredness, finger-pointing and negativity in much of society, this show, for family members to enjoy together, tells “universal stories with themes like forgiveness, redemption, sacrifice, courage, and banding together to help one another,” said Brian Bird, executive producer who also spoke the words above. “The characters on our show reflect those virtues and hopefully make a lasting impression on our viewers.”
As a presenter Kathie Lee Gifford, Today Show co-host, referred to “Bringing shalom to chaos.” In referencing “shalom,” she said she meant the word in its original definition–a sense of well-being and harmony–not the now familiar greeting.
Many of the stories told by winners do just this. One example is the story of Bard student and author Joseph Kim [photo right]. Today he looks and sounds like most college students, focusing, for instance, on how he’ll cover next semester’s tuition and board. But in his book, “Under the Same Sky,” you learn that his road to college was far from routine. Kim documented his journey from starvation and homelessness–his mother and sister escaped to China leaving him behind in North Korea. His new life here was made possible by activists and Christian missionaries. He hopes, some day, to find his sister–hence the book’s title.
In his book for children six years old and up, “Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton,” Don Tate writes about a slave who taught himself to read and became the first southern African American man to be published. Tate’s goal was to present the topic of slavery as more than just an uncomfortable word and to demonstrate the poet’s relevance in children’s lives today. Too many kids graduate from high school functionally illiterate. Tate’s publisher, Margaret Quinlin, [photo below], Peachtree Publishers, accepted the award for him.
Ernie Anastos, honored with the Christopher Lifetime Achievement Award, quoted a Greek saying that he “had a wish to die young but as late in life as possible.” This remarkable newscaster has been at it nonstop since he worked at a radio station at 16. He shared his frustration when he says, “Good evening,” to his audiences–he’s the news anchor at 6 pm on Fox 5–only to proceed to prove it’s not, which is why he focuses on positive news. He said you are measured not by what you’ve learned but by what you’ve taught.
The Greek saying reminded me of the bravery of the subjects of some of the winning books who, while young, sacrificed self for cause. Two young Jewish women in Meg Wiviott’s book for young adults, “Paper Hearts,” risk death in Auschwitz by creating a forbidden birthday card. U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills lost all his limbs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. He fought through painful rehabilitation and today lives a full life as husband, father and veterans advocate. His story is in the book “Tough As They Come.”
Can you name other initiatives that emphasize the positive? Do you have favorite sayings?