No really: What Would You Do?

What would you do

“What would you do?” appears to be a popular question. When you enter the phrase in the Google search engine, over 917 million results are listed.

At the top of the list is the site www.abcnews.go.com/whatwouldyoudo. This link directs folks to the ABC series, “What Would You Do?” The 9 p.m. Friday evening program is both an in-depth study of ethics and human nature, and an intriguing look at how ordinary people react when confronted with societal issues like sexual harassment, theft, bullying, domestic violence, racism, hazing, etc.

This is not a new question for journalists to consider. In the early 1950s, aspiring writer Jacqueline Lee Bouvier authored a column for the Times-Herald in Washington. In an indirect way, young Jackie sometimes asked her readers, “What Would You Do?” Jackie and John Kennedy

For example, one specific piece questioned, “Would you rescue a great artist who is a scoundrel, or a commonplace, honest family man?” Later, this budding journalist would become Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, our nation’s First Lady. It is Jackie’s question about human responsibility posed back then, that apparently still interests TV viewers today. For instance, in some episodes of the ABC show viewers are asked, “What would you do?” if you saw two lifeguards getting drunk in the middle of their shift? Or what about intervening, if you observed a man slipping a drug into his date’s drink? Would you react in the same way, if his date was dressed seductively? What would you do about a baby locked in a hot car?

According to an Associated Press article titled, “TV show uses hidden cameras to expose attitudes” by TV writer David Bauder, the show’s producer Chris Whipple got the idea for the series from “The Ethicist” column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. “There was an immediate response in the ratings after Primetime carried the first segment in 2004 with an actor portraying a babysitter verbally abusing a boy in a park,” according to Bauder. Five hour-long segments were produced in 2008 anchored by veteran broadcaster John Quinones, who originally joined ABC News in 1982. The program quickly soared in the ratings, and devoted fans continue to watch.

In the nineties, Nickelodeon had their own version of “What Would You Do?” While, other viewers might find the ABC series similar to the comedic TV show, “Candid Camera,” but its content is not as amusing, as it is revealing. Although there are some humorous moments and less serious subjects featured in ABC’s “What Would You Do?” For example, one classic show featured two wedding crashers, who were at times engaging, and at other times, blatantly rude, resulting in some pretty good laughs.

But it is not the chuckles that impress me. It is observing human nature at its very best when a heroic soul intervenes on behalf of a stranger facing some kind of injustice. It is also observing humanity at its worst, because onlookers often turn their apathetic heads away, and allow individuals being mistreated to suffer alone. Besides, when people react on hidden camera, they have no idea anyone is watching.

One standard of commonsense ethics can be found in the universal acceptance of the Bible’s Golden Rule which states, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NIV) Similarly, in a spiritual sense, the show is reminiscent of the timeless classic by Charles Sheldon, In His Steps: What would Jesus do? Written in 1896, the allegorical work is one of the best-selling books of all time.

In His Steps - Barbour books edition

In His Steps – Barbour books edition

Wikipedia explains that in Sheldon’s book, “…many of the novel’s characters [are] asking, ‘What would Jesus do?’ when faced with decisions of some importance.” Sheldon lived in the pages of his own book, confronting poverty, educational disparity, and racism first hand.

In the 1990’s, the motto, “WWJD?” became a popular phrase in our country adorning bracelets and bumper stickers everywhere. After all, people need a role model for the behavior that they embrace when confronted with an unfair circumstance.

As for the ABC show, I’ll bet Jesus would have had something to say about the episode where a blind woman was unjustly shortchanged by a bakery cashier. Yet I’m not sure He would have loudly and repeatedly told the obnoxious clerk to “shut up” like an intervening male customer did. Still, in his own way, the righteously indignant man really was a knight in shining armor trying to assist a vision-impaired damsel in distress. But the real question is not what he did, but, “What would you do?”

Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and an inspirational speaker. Contact her at www.christinaryanclaypool.com     

 

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The Reality “Ask the Pastor” Show

 Living in this chaotic world, if we’re honest, we have to admit that we all have problems. “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job.” (I Peter 4:12 The Message Bible) God’s always at work. However, it’s important to remember the famous public service announcement from the Emergency Broadcast System, “This is a test. This is only a test….” but we also need wisdom concerning what we should do in the midst of our tests.

Personally, I learned a lot about asking for advice during the years that I worked as a producer and reporter at WTLW TV 44 in west central Ohio. At the time, I occasionally assisted producing or hosting the Ask the Pastor TV program. Folks would call in to pose questions about theological issues, but more frequently they were trying to find solutions to their daily dilemmas including: financial problems, addiction, grief, loneliness, etc. by seeking the expert spiritual opinions from the panel of local pastors.

Asking for counsel takes humility, because we have to admit that we don’t have all the answers. There has to be an answer though, because Jesus himself said, “…In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33

Besides, clergy are very busy people, they can’t be expected to be on 24 hour call concerning our need for counsel. Although the Bible says, “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” (Proverbs 11:14) Of course, the ultimate book of wisdom is the Bible, and it’s where we should look first. Often though, we require someone with some skin on to enable us to understand God’s Word about our situation.   

That’s why I would like to introduce the concept of the reality Ask the Pastor Show. We can all be part of it, by seeking advice from the “wise” folks God places in our lives. It’s important to emphasize the word, “wise,” because we should seek counsel from confidential individuals who have been successful in the area that we are struggling with.

The bottom line is; if your marriage is in trouble, seek guidance from somebody of the same sex who has a healthy marital relationship. If your teen is on drugs, find a former addict who has become a productive member of society, and ask them how they broke free from addiction. Or if your business is in the red, talk with a successful entrepreneur.

The professional arena has long instituted the policy of mentoring relationships. For example, in the academic world it is standard practice for a new public schools superintendent to be assigned a mentor. My husband, Larry Claypool feels he hit the administrative jackpot in his early days as a superintendent when he was assigned an adviser who had years of educational experience.

Whenever an urgent situation occurred, placing my spouse on uncharted territory back then, he asked his mentor for advice. “Even when you have a decision already made, you call. Just to make sure it was the right decision,” Larry said. “It’s just like being a disciple, because a seasoned teacher imparts his knowledge for the good of someone else,” added my spouse who is now an experienced public schools superintendent himself who takes time to counsel young administrators.

Jesus knew all about mentoring people. He had his hands full with his own motley crew of followers. He had to teach Peter to control his temper, Thomas not to doubt, and James and John to quit seeking positions of honor, among other issues. 

I once heard Kenton, Ohio’s New Hope Fellowship pastor, Jason Manns, say that he believes, “God usually places individuals in our lives that He uses to disciple us in our Christian walk.” I agree, but we have to be cautious, that we don’t miss God’s voice through those close to us.

Familiarity can stop us from receiving what we need to hear. We discount the message, knowing firsthand folks in our inner circle are flawed human beings like ourselves. That’s why James 1:19 tells us, that “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Of course, we do have to guard ourselves from ungodly counsel, because. “…Bad company ruins good manners.”  (I Corinthians 15:33)

But if someone is a faithful believer, who wants God’s best for us, we should be willing to listen. If their counsel doesn’t line up with what you think your Heavenly Father is saying, put it on the shelf for awhile. Allow God to bring His perfect will to pass. Most importantly in the Book of Proverbs we are told to, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart;…listen for God’s voice in everything you do…He’s the one who will keep you on track.”

Christina Ryan Claypool is an Amy Award winning journalist and evangelistic speaker. Her husband, Larry Claypool is the superintendent of Ohio’s Hardin-Houston Schools. Information about her book, “Seeds of Hope for Survivors” is available through her Website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com or through www.amazon.com .   

 

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How not to Help a Thief

Would you like to help someone rip you view detailsoff? If not, you might want to keep reading. To explain, about a decade ago, I was employed as a TV producer/reporter for a daily magazine show in west central Ohio. One of my jobs was to create, “How To,” segments for the program. I have to admit these vignettes weren’t worthy of much professional acclaim, but I hope they helped folks with their daily dilemmas.

You know, “tough” questions like, “How do you get spaghetti sauce out of a favorite blouse?” Or, “How to avoid burning up your kitchen pans when you cook dinner.” Admittedly, most of the features I produced concerned areas where I had my own practical problems. Therefore, I went in search of experts who could answer my questions.

If I were still producing these TV packages, I think a few local individuals could provide material for a, “How to help a thief,” feature. For example, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen some potentially dangerous scenarios that could invite the attention of an unscrupulous crook. But then have you ever met a robber with any scruples?

First, while driving in my neighborhood the other day, I saw a huge cardboard box that had contained a new TV at the curb, fully assembled and waiting for trash collection. Then while parking in a public lot, I spied an empty automobile with a tempting purse and cell phone in visible sight.

That’s when I decided to ask Sheriff John Lenhart for some advice on how to keep ourselves and our possessions safe. The Ohio Shelby County sheriff says that robberies statistically increase with warmer weather simply because it’s “easier [for criminals] to move around.”

According to the law enforcement official who is currently serving his sixth term, there are, “Three parts to a crime including: 1) the intent of the individual, 2) the opportunity which you give those persons, and 3) the skill level” [of the perpetrator.]

When it comes to opportunity, “We allow ourselves to be vulnerable,” he said. Referring to my above examples, Sheriff Lenhart cautioned that it is not wise to leave “valuable items in eyesight,” in a car. In addition, when discarding an electronics box, you should “turn it inside out.” If not, he says, “That’s almost like a billboard, advertising that you’ve got something new.”

He also encouraged residents to alert neighbors or law enforcement agencies if they are going on vacation and leaving their homes vacant. “If the newspapers pile up, the trash sits out and nobody picks it up, [it becomes] pretty obvious nobody’s home,” said the seasoned sheriff.

Warning folks that today’s crime also involves stealing personal information is important to Sheriff Lenhart. “We live in a pretty technical world…check your credit accounts, keep track of receipts, and watch your debit card transfers,” he urged. “Keep a mindful eye that there are a lot of people out there…trying to take advantage of us.”

When it comes to a scam, the sheriff reminds people of the famous saying, “If it is too good to be true, it’s probably not true” Like the phone caller who reports, “Gee, you’ve won the Mexican lottery.” Some unsuspecting victims have fallen for the scam, even though they’ve never played the lottery.

Sheriff Lenhart has a special concern for the vulnerability of senior citizens who can be taken advantage of by unprincipled business people. “Do not do business with people you don’t know,” he said emphatically.

“We just had two persons pay substantial money…who had pavement put down on their driveways…. [the pavers] had put shoddy work down and [used] lousy material,” said the county officer. Sadly, the residents wrote checks for the work, making financial recovery difficult. The sheriff advises seniors to call the Better Business Bureau, a neighbor, or an adult child to ask advice about utilizing specific businesses for services. Scam artists rely on individuals agreeing to their terms without getting input from outside sources.

It would be wonderful if the world were filled with only trustworthy individuals. But Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, and there are real life criminals. As responsible consumers, we have to take our rose-tinted glasses off, and protect ourselves from loss. In closing, the Sheriff advises, “A lot of time, [with] these scams everything has to be done in a real hurry…slow the whole process down, so you can check them out…”

Parting advice from the road less traveled, just like the sheriff said, “slow the whole process down,” by turning the stove’s heat down to make your pans last longer to avoid burning them, also. As for the spaghetti sauce, treating the stain with a little Dawn or Palmolive dishwashing detergent prior to washing should do the trick. Sorry, I couldn’t resist sharing my hard-earned knowledge. Until next time….stay safe.

Christina Ryan Claypool is an award winning journalist and Christian speaker. Contact her through her Website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com. This column was originally published in the Sidney Daily News on June 6, 2012. 

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