Facing the Wite-Out® Bandit

The future is calling and asking us to send men of courage, men to rise up and boldly address the moral evils of the day.  It’s our job as fathers to prepare the next generation to boldly confront a world gone mad.  We have little time, the task is large, and the enemy is daily on the march.

I Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”  Whatever else this is saying, it’s certainly an affirmation of Biblical manhood.  God created men and women differently; equal yet different.  There is a certain something built into men that gives them a special ability to stand firm as a protector, to rise up when circumstances demand bravery, to defend the defenseless, to act like men.  The future needs such men and dads are given the task of producing them.

In HIs mercy, God has not left dads without the means we need.  Children learn by imitation.  They have a built in ‘more is caught than taught’ mechanism.  Teaching them how to act like men is important, but modeling is urgent.  Boys need to see their dads acting bravely.  Recently I had such an opportunity.

I’ve never been in combat, never faced down a criminal with a weapon, and never rescued a child from a burning building, but I did come face to face with the Wite-Out® Bandit, and this is my story.

On a Saturday afternoon bike ride with my two boys, we had just reached  the bridge near Old Sacramento when I spotted him.  As the pedestrian crossing signal changed I held my boys back.  They were ready to go and wondered at my hesitation.  About fifteen feet from us stood a monument with pictures and plaques which told some of the history of the region.  A young man (probably in his early twenties) was defacing the pictures.

I yelled, “Hey!” to get his attention.  He looked at me and I said, “What are you doing?”

No response, he just stared at me.  What could he say?  I had caught him red handed destroying public property and he wished I would mind my own business and carry on with my bike ride.  But I persisted.

“Don’t do that,” I said firmly.

“What is he doing?” one of my boys asked me.

“He’s painting on those pictures and destroying public property,” I said.

The bandit had replied, “Okay,”  but stood there waiting for me to leave.

I didn’t.  In fact, I was about to walk over to him when he decided to end the confrontation and walk away.  He actually walked directly past me and my boys.

Again, in a firm (but not angry) tone, I said, “Why are you doing that?”

He ignored me and kept walking.  I followed him with my boys in tow.  I figured he would wait until we were out of sight and then come right back to his evil deeds and so I pulled out my phone and let him see me do it. He probably thought I was either taking his picture or calling the police.   Either one was a deterrent to further bad behavior.

After he disappeared into the Saturday afternoon crowd, I had a conversation with my boys.  I explained to them what I had seen the criminal doing.  I told them it’s okay to speak up in such situations.

I told my boys, “When someone is doing wrong, they need to be confronted.  Many other people were walking by.  Maybe they didn’t notice what he was doing, but maybe they did and weren’t sure what to do, or were afraid to say something.  It’s okay to say something.  When you are in the right, the person doing wrong has no moral ground and will usually be a coward.  This guy could have become angry and confronted me, but he knew I was right and he was wrong.  Usually in such situations the one doing wrong acts like a coward when confronted.”

Across the bridge we went on our bikes and enjoyed ourselves along the river.  On our return trip I spotted the bandit headed directly towards us on the bridge.  I was ready to say something to him again and turned to warn my boys.

“Here comes that guy,” I said.

“He’s leaving,” said my oldest son.

Sure enough.  He had spotted me and in the time it took to turn to my boys and back to face him again he had spun on his heel and headed the opposite way across the  bridge.

Back at the monument we examined it.  We discovered the man had been using Wite-Out® to paint over words in the pictures and plaques.  Random words.  It was obvious that he had no agenda other than to deface property.  We scratched the Wite-Out® off with our fingernails and rode on.

Later we recalled the story to the rest of the family and named the man the Wite-Out® Bandit.  It’s a fun story, but I’m no hero.  Facing the Wite-Out® bandit doesn’t really amount to much – or does it?

Boys need examples of courage, and by God’s grace on that Saturday afternoon, an ordinary dad, far from the worlds military or political battle fields, was able to give his boys a small picture of what it means to “act like men”.

-David West

*This was originally published in the SCOPE homeschool newsletter.
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