What usually comes to mind when someone mentions the word beauty? For many, the image they first identify in their mind is usually something pertaining to physical beauty. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way we relate it in our world. In my opinion, it is only harmful if it stops there.
I just recently returned to school this fall and one of the classes I have to take this semester is Arts in Society. Now, I am NOT by any means that artistic of a person, but I can really appreciate the different genres of art that others can produce so I was actually looking forward to the class….plus it’s required so I might as well have a positive attitude about it right? Not 10 minutes into the first class, our professor announces our first assignment: to give a five minute presentation to the class on something you find beautiful. My mind immediately began to turn. I really didn’t want to be in the normal pool of kids who will find a picture of a beach or a pretty girl (we have had a few present on that). I wanted to go beyond the physical surface to something that really shows more internal beauty. I went through several different choices in my head during the rest of the class (I promise I was paying attention though). J.R.R Tolken’s quote “All that glitters is not gold.” then came to mind. I suppose you could interpret that in several different ways and I have actually done so on occasion. This time though I thought of it as the following:
Gold a precious metal that glitters beautifully. But all that glitters is not gold. Thus,outwardly a man may look innocent but he may he cruel at heart. Face is no more the index of the mind. Appearances are generally deceptive. Beauty is the essence of life but inner beauty is the essence of the soul. Who knows that a person with a beautiful face may have an ugly heart? Sometimes it so happens that a gentle hearted person appears to be rogue but in fact he is not. The face does not speak often anything about mind.
The person who is beautiful from within is blessed with an aura and fullness that external beautification will never find. Your thoughts, your values make up your inner beauty and if they are pure they give life a better meaning. External beauty fades with time, but internal beauty is with you forever. Real beauty is not the physical beauty all the time. It lies in human character and human heart. Handsome is he who handsome does. Physical beauty is short-lived. It fades away too soon. But the beauty of heart is eternal joy giving and ever-growing gentility of heart and nobility of character are the hallmarks of one’s personality.
With my mind on that idea of beauty, I narrowed my topic down to two. I could either talk about working with low-income kids over this past summer, or I could talk about Israel and the Restoring Courage event a few weeks ago. My heart was torn. I really want to share with others my passion for kids in need…but Israel has been on my mind and my heart a lot lately as well. At first I thought that I could do both, but knowing me…I could spend a whole class period talking about either one and I only have 5 minutes. In the end, I decided I will present about Israel for two main reasons. I could almost feel God tugging on my sleeve to share with my class why Israel displays inner beauty and because everyone else is in the same major as I am, I figured they would either all present on kids too or get bored hearing about why someone wants to teach again. I had selected my topic….now to explain my reasoning behind it.
I won’t lie, this part was really difficult for me. Now I know why I find Israel and the support behind the country beautiful. It was just trying to put that into words that would make people understand my reasoning that was hard. I also had so much I wanted to point out to them probably because it is something I have a strong opinion about and to be honest, not many really, and I mean REALLY know what the situation in Israel is all about. It finally began to come together for me though and all other points aside (you probably don’t want to hear me go on another Israel rant do you?) here’s why I think Israel is beautiful.
1. Like in my last post, the people of Israel are God’s chosen people. That in itself makes Israel beautiful in my mind. To go even further than that, God chose a young Hebrew woman to be the vessel his son, Jesus Christ, would enter the world through. He didn’t send him into the world through Rome, where Christ could grow up with all the riches the world possessed. No, instead he chose a humble beginning through Israel so that Christ could be more relatable and reachable for all people.
2. Even in these days, I still see the beauty in Israel. If you read the news stories about the conflict in the country between the Israelis and the Palestinians, you know that a lot is going on. Unfortunately, much of what the media has produced has been in defense of the Palestinians and against the Israelis. To be honest, I believe completely that they are wrong in their opinion and that they, along with our President have taken the wrong side in the mess for many reasons. One is that if you read or listen to first hand accounts of what actually happens over there, you realize that the Israelis are acting in defense for the most part. If the United States were to switch places with Israel, no one would be taking the side of Palestine. Two: like in my last post, God is going to take care of his people. Now, they do go through hard times and tragedy does strike, but overall God does watch over them. In my opinion, if you are standing against Israel then you are standing against God as well….and that is NOT somewhere you want to be. Genesis 12:1-3 says that if we bless God’s people, we will be blessed. But if we curse them, he will curse us. I don’t know about you, but I would like to be on the right side of this.
3. Israelis have a great amount of courage to live where they do. Not many people I know would be willing to live in a place where enemies literally surround you and you are the only beacon of freedom around. They are under constant threat by Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and especially President Ahmadinejad in Iran who has literally said he wants to wipe Israel off the map. If I were them, I’d be scared to death, but somehow even in the midst of a growing threat and an almost imminent attack, Israel stands strong. I am sure they waver a bit and wonder why as any human would, but still they stand strong. Israeli soldiers also show courage. There are stories of how at one time Palestinians were using mentally ill people in their terrorist attacks. One such story involved a young man who had some mental handicap who was seized and beaten by Palestinians and then strapped with a bomb and told to walk through a checkpoint with it and detonate it after getting through. The terrorists threatened to shoot him if he disobeyed. The boy, scared out of his mind, did as he was told, but on his walk toward the checkpoint his jacket flew open and two Israeli soldiers saw the bomb. The yelled at him to put his hands up and then one of them calmly walked over to the boy and disarmed the bomb. After he had disarmed it, they embraced the boy who was now wailing realizing that he was both safe and probably in trouble for what he was going to do. Instead of treating him as hostile, the Israeli soldiers embraced him, calmed him down and then later took him to a hospital. Now if I had been one of those soldiers, I would not have wanted to walk toward that boy when he was strapped with the bomb. Not only did they display great courage in that, they also showed an extreme amount of compassion and love to the boy after they took the bomb off. Talk about good character qualities to exhibit.
4. During Glenn Beck’s Restoring Courage event, he showed a documentary during the second of three main events. This one was called the Courage to Remember which was all about the Holocaust. The documentary follows Rudy Wolff, a Jew who escaped from Germany to Jerusalem before he could be sent to a death camp. Unfortunately, the rest of his family perished in those death camps. At time of the documentary, Rudy was going back to his hometown in Germany for the first time since he fled. It was quite the experience to witness his reaction along the way. I’m not going to lie, I cried…a good amount. The best part about the documentary in my opinion was the part where Rudy seems to be at peace with what happened. He accepts that he cannot change what has already been done and he actually forgives the people who broke up his family and those who just sat by idly watching. He FORGIVES them. I often wonder how hard that must be. To forgive someone who has hurt you more deeply than can be expressed is probably one of the hardest things to do in life, and yet that is what he did. Amazing. This also reminds me of the story of the Fogel family living in the West Bank whose lives were changed a few weeks ago when two Palestinian men broke into their home and murdered both the mother and father as well as three of the six children ages 11, 4, and 3 months old. Even after finding her family brutally murdered in their home, the 12-year-old daughter, Tamar, had a message for those who would destroy Israel. It wasn’t one of revenge or anger, but courage. Instead of wanting revenge, this sweet girl wants peace. She bravely made a statement not long after the incident saying ” This incident and everything that happens to the Jewish nation will not break us.” She as well as others in the community are looking for ways to bring about peace to the area again.
If you take to heart nothing else, at least store this: The real test of a man’s character, of his beauty, lies not in the how he acts in easy times. It lies in the actions, in the thoughts, and in the heart of each individual during the times where life is hard, where decisions must be made, and where taking a stand for what you believe in will be the difference. Israel has shown its true beauty, its true character. Are you ready to show yours? To stand up for what is right even when all others say you are wrong? Will you go as far to be on the front lines if it comes down to action? Glenn Beck said during his speech at the final Restoring Courage event, “Condemn me. Target me. I will stand with Israel. I will stand with the Jewish people. And if they want to round us up again, I will proudly raise my hand and say ‘Take me first.'” Do you have that kind of courage? Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather acting upon your convictions despite that fear. I will join Beck in his stand. If it comes down to life and denouncing Israel, denouncing the U.S. and denouncing my faith or standing strong for Israel and my faith, I choose the latter. I will not be a coward when that time comes and if I perish, I perish. But I will not go without a fight. Will you do the same?