When I first met my now good friend Karin Slaughter several years ago, I’m not sure what I was expecting. All of her books are nail-biting thrillers.
The night before I met her, one of her books kept me up all night. Her expertise in crime scenes, forensics and police procedure is carefully woven into compelling stories designed to keep you turning pages. I guess I pictured a wild-eyed, half-crazed author with blood splattered on her shirt. Instead, I discovered someone who was warm, irreverent and spontaneously funny.
Karin’s writing talent regularly lands her at the top of the New York Times bestselling lists. Her many books have sold tens of millions of copies around the world.
Do you remember the Road Runner cartoon? Wile E. Coyote would be chasing Road Runner who would “beep, beep!” and manage to slip away. Always two steps ahead of the coyote, Road Runner just outmaneuvered him in every episode.
I remember when the coyote would run right off a cliff in pursuit. And he would dramatically just keep running on air, not realizing that he wasn’t on solid ground. Though it was predictable, you would see the sudden realization, the pause, the expression and then the inevitable fall.
As a kid, I identified with the road runner. We were outsmarting our opponent. We just laughed at that coyote. How could he be so stupid? Every single week, he repeated the same mistakes. How could you be running so fast that you don’t realize you just ran off a cliff?
I watched one of those old cartoons today, and I looked at it from a completely different perspective. Instead of identifying with the road runner, I saw the coyote with new empathy.
Even if you can’t recite the first verse, I’m certain that you know the chorus.
Read this and I’m sure your mind will start hearing the song. Warning: It may stay with you for the rest of the day.
Here are the first four lines of the chorus:
And I’m proud to be an American,
Where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
Who gave that right to me.
In your head, isn’t it?
For those of us in the United States, it’s one of the most powerful, patriotic songs ever. Whatever your background and whatever your political party, you likely are swept by the emotion of the song and its sentiment.
It was written years ago by Lee Greenwood. He has since sung that song all over the world. For Presidents. In stadiums. On a plane’s intercom flying over the World Trade Center site. In dangerous situations around the world.
A few weeks ago, I had one of those days. You know what I’m talking about. You’re going to a meeting when someone suddenly cuts you off. You decide to grab a quick cup of coffee at Starbucks. Instead of moving at the normal fast pace, the line seems to take forever. Finally getting your coffee, you glance at your watch and think you have just enough time to make it to the meeting. But when you rush back out to your car, you find someone has decided to park behind you. After locating the offending car owner, you are back on your way only to get a phone call asking if you could delay the meeting until tomorrow.
Life’s frustrations. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget what truly matters.
During this particularly frustrating day, I heard something that immediately changed my point of view. Immaculee Ilibagiza was visiting Nashville in a few weeks. Just thinking of her story changed my perspective in an instant.
Do you know her story?
One of the Most Powerful Stories I’ve Ever Heard
Immaculee grew up in Rwanda and had a fairly normal life until 1994 when everything changed. Hutu extremists seized control of power and began a genocide that would rip her world apart. Immaculee hid for 91 days with seven other women in a small bathroom as killers searched for them.