Tag Archives: decisions

Hey, Who Has the Talking Stick?

Story of the Day for Wednesday April 25, 2012

Hey, Who Has the Talking Stick?

                     If you don’t consult others, plans fail. But with many advisors they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22

In 1906, the livestock fair at Plymouth, in Devon, England accepted wagers on the weight of a butchered ox. About 800 fairgoers placed a bet.

Sir Francis Galton was a brilliant statistician, but was an elitist. He believed most people were incompetent to have a say in political affairs. Because most of those who wagered on the weight of the ox were neither farmers not butchers, he believed the uninformed crowd would guess wildly off the mark — and he was almost right.

Many who made wagers were nowhere near the actual weight of the ox. When the wagering was over, the ox was put on the scale and weighed in at 1198 pounds. Galton took all 800 wagers and averaged their guesses. He was stunned to discover, however, that the statistical mean of all the guesses came to . . . 1197 pounds.

When Native American tribes faced important decisions, their leaders would gather for a council. They began by smoking the calumet. They relaxed, passed the pipe, and established a common bond. When various tribes gathered together, a chief from one tribe would speak. When he finished, the council was over for the day. The next chief would not speak until the others had a day to mull over the words of the first chief.

When some tribes held their own councils, they fashioned a talking stick. Often, an eagle feather was attached to the stick to symbolize the courage to speak truthfully, along with rabbit fur to remind them to speak from the heart. No one was ever allowed to interrupt the one holding the talking stick. By passing the talking stick to every member of the council, everyone viewpoint was heard, and everyone learned to listen carefully to each person’s viewpoint.

If you’ve been paying attention so far, you may be itching for me to hand you the talking stick. And you probably have some excellent points to make.

“Marty, pointing out that the statistical regression to the mean helps a crowd to accurately guess a cow’s weight is not . . .”

“I think it was an ox, actually.”

“Hey, who has the talking stick?”

“Sorry.”

“A group’s ability to accurately estimate the weight of an ox is far different from a group’s ability to discover theological truths by consensus. You can’t discover whether God loves you by taking a vote.”

“Excellent point. When others share their opinion they may well be wrong. But, all the same, we’re never harmed by listening thoughtfully to what they have to say.”

“I still haven’t given you back the talking stick.”

“Oops.”

                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Drops of Water on the Summit

Story of the Day for Saturday June 18, 2011

Drops of Water on the Summit

                       . . . Jesus firmly decided to go to Jerusalem. 

                                                             Luke 9:51

  Keri Russell said, “Sometimes it’s the smallest decision that can change your life forever.”

Triple Divide Peak, in Glacier National Park, is the only mountain in the world that feeds into three oceans. Rainwater falling on the western slope drains into the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, and eventually flows into the Columbia River — which drains into the Pacific Ocean. The northeastern slope flows across Canada into Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean. And rain from the southeastern slope feeds into Marias River, which flows to the Missouri, and then joins the Mississippi River to empty into the Atlantic Ocean.

Three raindrops could fall within an inch of each other on Triple Divide Peak, and each one would end up in a different ocean.

The religious authorities in Jerusalem wanted to arrest and execute Jesus, but they didn’t know how to get their hands on him. As long as Jesus stayed put up north in Galilee, he had a huge following of people who would protect him.

The most momentous stride in history was the first step Jesus took when he decided he would walk south to Jerusalem in order to die.

Making a decision and acting on it can change the entire destination of our lives. The problem is that – unless you decide to run for the presidency or to have yourself shot out of a cannon – no one really notices what you’ve done. Or cares.  No one finds the first inches a raindrop travels on Triple Divide Peak to be of any significance. Who noticed Jesus’ first footstep after he firmly resolved to walk the dusty road to his own execution?

We can talk a lot about God’s will. We can think a lot about The Dream that the Lord has put in our hearts, but everything depends on the direction of our first footstep . . . and taking it.

My friend, Carl, once asked me: “Three frogs are sitting on a log and one frog decides to jump into the pond. How many frogs are now sitting on the log?”

“Two,” I said.

“No, three. Because, until that frog acts on his decision to jump, he’s nothing but a frog sitting on a log.”

For several years now, I’ve wanted to climb Triple Divide Peak and pour a few drops of water on the summit – and think of the water levels rising in the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic Oceans.

I’ve never stood on the top of Triple Divide Peak, however, because I’ve never made the decision to do it. One of these days, though . . .

                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)