Thursday, April 18, 2024

Destruction of private property no way to improve society

by Dan Graves
| July 19, 2020 1:00 AM

I am saddened to report that the Jesus statue placed on Big Mountain by the Knights of Columbus has been vandalized. As many of you know, the statue was dedicated in 1954 to the memory of those who served in World War II fighting for the freedom of Europe against the totalitarianism of the Nazi regime.

My first reaction when I saw the face and hands painted brown was how deeply our society has descended into incivility. I can only assume based on the messaging left behind that the painting of the skin of Jesus is a response from those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. As a concept itself, the importance of respecting black lives is practical and noble, just as it is practical and noble to recognize that every life matters. Yes, every life. It is ironic that the vandalized statue is of Jesus, who died for forgiveness of our transgressions and teaching humanity the importance of all people’s lives. Whether you are a believer or not, that is the ultimate self-giving sacrifice that anyone has ever performed.

What happened to civil discourse when one could disagree with another without shouting at each other, physically harming one another, or destroying their property? What happened to walking away respecting the freedom of another to have a different opinion?

Calm debate is no longer practiced or taught. It seems that it is far easier to demonize the person that disagrees with you and label them with some name that instills fear or loathing than it is to put forth values, principles, and results that justify your opinion.

Do we want a society where the mob rules with violence, fear and destruction of property? There are many examples of that around the world and in all of those places poverty and great need is widespread, and freedom, if any, is limited to what the current government dictates. Generally, those regime changes start with violence, private property destruction, elimination of private gun ownership, and the elimination of history. These are facts. That is what happened in Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, China, Lebanon, the former USSR, Nigeria, and many other countries.

So, one or more “brave” individuals came up to the mountain and “made a statement” by vandalizing a statue that has been there for over 60 years and painting over the skin color. If the skin color is all they saw, they have a bigger issue within themselves. That statue is not about race. It is about the memory of all those who fought for freedom for those that didn’t have much in the dark days of the late 1930s and early 1940s in Europe. It is about an organization, the Knights of Columbus, that was founded in 1882 in Connecticut to meet the needs of immigrants, refugees and widows and children suffering from the death of a breadwinner and without means of supporting a family. More importantly, the figure represents a love that we should all aspire to give to others. It is worth noting that all cultures have representations of Christ’s likeness mirroring the complexion of the local culture. Certainly, those that vandalized the Knights of Columbus’s property have no honor except among their own. I wonder how they would feel if their car was spray-painted by someone who disagreed with them. This act was not a “peaceful” demonstration.

I hope this is a general “wake-up call” across our communities that it was an attack on private property. When will it be a storefront in the Flathead? When will it be a church, synagogue, or temple in the Flathead? It is already happening across the nation. The very fibers of our country are being pulled apart by those that want to dismantle the values and laws that this country was founded on and why it has flourished more than any country on the planet.

I pray for those individuals who think that violence and destruction is the proper way for improving society. That only starts within, by giving back to society rather than just taking, by helping others when they cannot help themselves, by forgiving others of a wrongdoing, by listening to someone that has no one to talk to, by taking a walk with your spouse after they have had a hard day, by playing with your kids because they won’t be kids forever, or by helping out an older person who has trouble with chores.

We are all leaving this life at some point. You take no possession, no title, no wealth, nothing. You leave behind the fruits of your deeds and behavior. I take great solace in knowing that there is something far better ahead of me than behind. I just hope I leave behind enough good fruit to warrant the place ahead. I hope the vandals do too.

— Dan Graves is CEO of Winter Sports Inc. This letter is an expression of his personal opinion and was not written on behalf of the WSI Board of Trustees or Whitefish Mountain Resort.