|Coach Christopher G. Green|
Suddenly I heard the awful sound of someone gagging and choking. Children began to scream and without hesitating, I jumped up and ran over to that table across the room. When I got there, a woman leaned back in her chair, her eyes bulging and a horrible noise, like a gargle, was coming from her throat. The people at the table were yelling and the children were crying. I quickly got behind her and tried to lift her up to perform the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge whatever was stuck in her throat. My effort was futile as fear and despair began to fill my heart.
Then, out of nowhere, a rather tall and husky young man was standing next to me and helping me to lift the woman. Once we got her to her feet, he got behind her, wrapping his arms around her, and with a couple of powerful thrust, dislodged the food. She began to breathe and burst into grateful tears.
There are no words to describe the tears of joy that came to everyone at that table. The young man and I just shook hands. Eventually, the paramedics arrived and we all returned to our tables, gathering with our various families, where we rehearsed the event over and over again.
It occurred to me as I rejoined my family, that in that moment of crisis, that none of our differences mattered. It did not matter what church the woman attended. The young man did not stop and ask me about my religious or political beliefs. We did not ask the woman her religious or political beliefs. All that mattered was that her life was slipping away before our eyes, and we could not just stand there and watch it happen.
I remember how my wife hugged me and told me how proud she was, and even though that did a lot for my confidence as a man, even that was not the reason for trying to help the woman. All that mattered was the saving of that life. An actual crisis changed our lives forever. It changed the very reason we’re working in the urban community today.
That day in that restaurant, it became clear that this is the way we are to see life. People are choking and dying all around us, yet those of us who have the power to change things, are spending our time fighting over our differences instead of saving the lives of those who are choking on injustice, poverty, strife and division. My wife and I work with the homeless and the unemployed, so we’re always around people who are choking on despair, disappointment, and discouragement. Wouldn't it have been ridiculous for me and the young man to have gotten into a fight with each other instead of working together to help the choking woman?
I tell you this true-life event from my life because I felt you needed to understand a little more about what it means to CARE. You see, when we say we really don’t focus on the division and strife amongst people, we really mean it. We realize there are people who won’t agree with all of our religious beliefs, our core values and our strategies for connecting with people in the urban world. We won’t agree with all of theirs. But it doesn’t matter when we hear that choking sound coming from hearts and homes.
We realize there are people groups who have had negative clashes and personal conflicts in their history with one another, but we’re working for the time to come when we can lay down the social, economic and political weapons that are pointed at one another and start responding to the choking people all around us.
I feel the same way now as I did that day when I ran over and tried to help the woman. The key was that I couldn’t do it all by myself. I needed the help of another man, who was most likely from another religious or political background, who probably did not agree with all of my beliefs or all of my core values. We didn’t even ask each other any questions after saving the woman’s life. It just didn’t matter.
Christopher G. Green
World Civility Ambassador, Dr. Clyde Rivers calls Coaches Chris and Carol Green the leading skilled experts in rebuilding, restoring and renewing hearts and homes. The Greens are certified master life coaches who founded the Fruitful Life Network, Inc. an innovative community care and coaching outreach.