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(I am interpreting, fairly I hope, an incident that happened this past Thursday night. For insight from one of the principals, you can watch a Detroit Free Press interview here.)
It usually starts bad. Often, really bad. Like this past Thursday: Two guys come up behind my friend as he’s walking towards his door. We’re not going to hurt you, they say, but you need to let us in your house. My friend turns around to face them, and stammers, “n-n-no, no,” as in, “hell no, you’re not getting in my house.” One shoots him in the knee; he sees the finger pull the trigger, the flame, then the red hole in his knee. They run away. He’s survived. His leg is a mess. The first surgery went well. There will be more.
Those two assailants — and just about anyone in the world who might care — had NO IDEA who they were assaulting.
Not because he is a federal judge and the FBI has already put a $25,000 reward out. Not because Terry had been an assistant US Attorney prosecuting thugs like this, and so his powerful friends will swoop in and put these punks away. No.
They assaulted Everyday Leader Terry Berg who is married to Everyday Leader Anita Sevier (she’s in the subject of the video linked above). So, what should these two — and all of us — expect from Terry and Anita? Outrage? Justice? Anger? Vengeance? Try: Prayers! Prayers and the couples’ redoubled commitment to focus on doing whatever they can to make Detroit’s schools and Detroit’s economy and Detroit’s streets work for kids like this.
Do you think you’re a HERO? Who does? Do you think you’re a LEADER? Isn’t that some arrogance?!! Are these two “heroic” for:
- Choosing to live in the city, and STAYING in the city when their kids were school age (a time when many idealists like Jen and I moved out)?
- Was Anita heroic when a kid snagged her purse at the grocery store a few years ago and she, some 50 years young, tore after him, into the middle of a 5-lane street, losing her shoe while hurling epithets and telling people, “stop that guy.” (He dropped her purse.)
- Is Anita heroic when she takes abandoned lots and organizes the community and finds the money to build neighborhood playgrounds?
- Are they heroic when Terry, the prosecutor and judge, stays in the very community that statistically holds more “thugs,” “punks,” “predators,” or whatever name you want to give them, than almost any other area in Michigan?
- And is it heroic, that the day after her husband’s been shot, Anita speaks for their family when they pray for the “gentlemen” (as she repeatedly calls them in the Free Press video) and pray for all of us that we won’t use this as a(nother) reason to “hate on Detroit” but instead rally against conditions that allow such desperation and inhumanity to fester?
I think they are “just” and certainly Just(!) Everyday-Leaders. I promise if you met them at some charity event or in the audience at one of their kids’ plays, you would not walk away stunned by their beauty, bravado, brains and bravery. You would not say those two are Leaders; those two are Heroes! You probably would say, “they were really nice.” And if I asked you, “Why do you say that?” You would likely say, “They listened well. They seemed to care about what I was saying.” Yep. Everyday. Everyday at its best is humility. It’s doing the job and not thinking you’re better than, better than . . . well, those who assail you.
Everyday is doing it where you are: whether that’s the neighborhoods of Detroit, your crappy political work environment, the US House or your house with its ungrateful teenagers. It’s just doing your part. But doing your part.
I don’t want to turn my Everyday Leader friends into Heroes, if that means they are different than me. They didn’t see gunman as “less than” them. I don’t think they want you or me to see them as “more than” they are. They keep doing what anyone can do. They believe the two gentlemen can become Everyday Leaders. So can I. So can you. What COULD you do? What can we all do?
Anita and Terry pray. Maybe you feed from that deep stream, (or maybe you find other ways to feed yourself) and practice Everyday Leadership, so that when your trial approaches you can lead humbly and magnificently — even with a shattered leg or seemingly shattered hope. Practice today to
Lead with your magnificent self!
If I ever write a second edition of Everyday Leadership, I’ll include further tales of Terry Berg and Anita Sevier. If you would like to support Anita’s work, as volunteer coordinator at Gesu Elementary School, giving a great boost to Detroit children, I’m sure she’d be happy to hear from you; she’s at Seviera@gesudetroit.org. For my part, I will donate $10 to Big Brother Big Sister for every copy of Everyday Leadership purchased at Amazon this month.
Dan, you make them ordinary enough for me to be concerned as I always am. When you think of leadership and title you think those who have competence and the ability to affect the community in a positive way.
So when everyday hardworking people (who want to make positive contributions in society just as I do) are attacked it is time for prayer and prevention. No one wants to be lied on, attacked or victims of assault. It’s a lot of effort to leave your home and go to someone else’s looking for provision (I guess). The assailants intentions are peculiar to say the least. Like you I’ll be praying for your friend and others that these type circumstances are mitigated for those of us who work hard to be successful and create a quality of life we can be proud of (without desiring to hurt others). Thanks for sharing
Spot-on, Dan. Thanks for articulating what I’ve been feeling since this happened.
Dan: Thank you for relating that story. Although I live still (barely) within the borders of Michigan, that story did not reach us here, 2 miles past the end of the Earth. I was raised in the northwest suburbs of Detroit and steeped in the ferocious tea flowing from that dark place. It was always the regular folks, the families whose parents worked for a car company or service industry and paid their taxes and mowed their lawns, who stood quietly in the path of those bent on disruption and crime. There were no superheroes, no crusaders, and no neighborhood vigilante groups bristling with weapons. What we had were everyday folks who refused to accede to local toughs and gangs, who simply and quietly said, “No.” At least, that’s the way it was in 1967, the year we moved north into the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula. I know things have changed, but folks like Terry Berg and Anita Sevier give me hope that the core strength of those neighborhoods remains intact and adamant about making life better for everyone because their core values tell them it is the right thing to do.
A Face Book friend of mine lives in Detroit and hates it. His car has been vandalized. He has been assaulted and beaten up at night while walking to his car. He is moving out of state. As I read about Detroit, Flint and a few other large cities in Michigan, I keep wondering, why is law enforcement not increased? Is cutting government so important? A person can be as humble, and brave, as possible, but the human mind and body can only take so much.
My sister lives in Lansing. She asked me if I had a concealable weapon permit. I said, “No, why?” Her answer was, “So you can visit me.”
Where is the leadership in these city’s governments?