Defining moments show up with no announcement. Unexpectedly receiving an opportunity, some people are pulled into a position of influence and distinction. On rare occasions, those moments are grasped in such a way that ripples are sent through history, impacting culture in ways that simply cannot be planned. That's exactly what happened last week.
Chuck Colson explains this incredible moment, found in the setting of "America's Favorite Pastime" :
As most of the world knows by now, Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers was one out away from throwing the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history. With two outs in the ninth, the Cleveland Indians batter hit a grounder to the Tiger first baseman. Galarraga, the pitcher, raced to cover first.
It's a routine play, and the Tigers seemed to have pulled it off: Galarraga and the ball reached first base at least a step ahead of the runner. With that, Galarraga, who earlier in week had faced a possible demotion to the minor leagues, would become a baseball immortal.
Except he didn't. As you probably know, umpire Jim Joyce called the batter "safe." Galarraga's response was "a simple smile." A smile that, as Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated said, seemed to ask "Are you sure? I really hope you are sure."
Galarraga was the only one smiling. The blown call outraged fans across the country. The most measured response called for Joyce to be fired. The more unhinged ones threatened Joyce and his family.
For his part, as soon as he saw the replay, Joyce knew that he had gotten it wrong. He told reporters "I just cost that kid a perfect game."
By baseball standards, such an admission was extraordinary: Umpires are paid to make judgment calls and stand by them. Players and managers can argue with them but only within limits, and with no expectation of having the call reversed.
So, when Joyce apologized to Galarraga, we were already in unfamiliar territory. When Galarraga, in turn forgave Joyce, adding that Joyce probably felt worst than he did and "nobody's perfect," we were witnessing something extraordinary.(Check out the entire BreakPoint® commentary).
Joyce and Galarraga both had a defining moment last week--and both came out on the other side as representatives to culture for the virtue of humility and forgiveness. As Chuck Colson said, "What happened after that baseball game was more beautiful than Galarraga's pitching. Especially for a postmodern culture that rejects the faith that gave meaning to the words "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you." And that's one call I'm sure of." (really, if you didn't hear the whole commentary, you won't want to miss it!)
As if last week didn't add enough heroes to our culture, another one came to light in the technology industry. BreakPoint® highlighted another individual's stand on integrity when Mark Earley shared about Steve Jobs commitment to values in the Apple products, despite knowing it might lose business.
In the never-ending battle of the technological titans, score one for Steve Jobs. No, the CEO of Apple hasn't come out with yet another groundbreaking iProduct, at least not since the iPad.
But he's done something even more extraordinary--he's brought good values into the mix.
Jobs has made it clear that he wants to keep pornography off Apple products as much as possible. Obviously Apple can't control everything its users do, but it can make porn scarcer on its products, and it has done just that. (click here to read the entire commentary and hear Jobs defense of this position for critics. It'll be well worth your time!)
As I think through my personal heroes (old and the new ones added just this past week), I've come to realize something about those "unexpected defining moments." It's about your character--not the moment.
As a good friend of mine says, "integrity precedes impact...let's live with both!"
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