Archive for the ‘The Blind Side’ Category

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” –Matthew 25:40

Seven years ago in Memphis, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy were driving to their large home in a gated community when they saw a student walking alongside of the road.

Michael Oher, who grew up in the poverty-stricken area of the city called Hurt Village, had recently become a classmate of the Tuohy’s daughter Collins at Briarcrest Christian School.

At first glance, he was an intimidating figure, measuring more than six feet tall and weighing close to 250 pounds. But when the Tuohys looked closer, they saw a teenage boy shivering in the cold, rainy night, wearing only shorts and a t-shirt.

They stopped the car, opened their door and gave Michael a place to stay for the night. It turns out their gift was a brand new life.

Now in theaters, the film The Blind Side depicts the real-life events surrounding the Tuohys’ decision to welcome Michael into their lives on that cold, winter night.

The Tuohys gave Michael a warm bed, comfortable clothes and a stable, loving family environment in which he could thrive. With their support and the help of a tutor, Michael raised his grade point average at Briarcrest to a level that qualified him to play football.

Michael was assigned the important position of left tackle, a position that must protect the quarterback from defensive players on the left – the quarterback’s “blind side.”

He excelled on the gridiron and was courted by many of the coaches in the Southeastern Conference. He enrolled at Ole Miss, was named First Team Freshman All-American and made the Dean’s List his sophomore year. As a senior, he again made the Dean’s List and earned a degree in criminal justice. He was named First Team All-American and was a first-round pick in the NFL draft. He currently starts at tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.

Michael’s life was drastically changed when he got in the Tuohy’s car, but the Tuohys look at that night differently. “I think Michael had a much greater impact on our lives than we did on his,” Leigh Anne said in film press materials. “You take so much in life for granted, but when Michael moved in with us, he made us realize how blessed we are. We viewed life differently after he joined our family.”

I think the Tuohys looked at life differently before Michael got into the car. They looked beyond their comfortable point of view and saw a boy from a different area of town who needed their help. They didn’t want or need the approval of their socialite friends to help the young man. They weren’t bound by unspoken rules that segregated the rich from the poor, the black from the white. They didn’t have a blind side.

What about us? When we show compassion to others or help someone less fortunate than ourselves, how far out of our comfort zone do we go? Do we look at the world around us in 360 degrees or just through that narrow line of vision that is easy and comfortable?

Jesus reminded us in last week’s gospel that his kingdom is not of this world. To follow in his footsteps and truly live by his example, we must be free of worldly restraints.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:24)

In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, also in theaters now, Ebeneezer Scrooge is startled by the ponderous, heavy chain wrapped around the ghost of Jacob Marley, his late partner. Marley forged the chain himself through a life of disreputable business affairs and by ignoring the needs of those less fortunate. Scrooge learns that his own chain was the same length and weight seven years ago, and had grown considerably since then.

Later on, Scrooge receives a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Present – the jolly figure of Father Christmas who represents the fullness of life. Clinging to the underside of his opulent coat are two frail and helpless figures: a girl named Want and a boy named Ignorance. According to Father Christmas, “upon them lies the seal of Doom for mankind” unless their future is changed.

Ebeneezer learns a valuable lesson during his dreams: apathy can be as powerful a societal evil as criminal behavior. Fortunately for him, Tiny Tim and others in their fair village, Ebeneezer did not remain a passive bystander to mankind’s plight. Instead of condemning the less fortunate to a miserable life in the prisons and workhouses, he uses his time, talents and treasure to help others build a better life for themselves.

It’s a lesson Leigh Anne Touhy already knew. Fortunately for Michael Oher (and now us), she put the lesson into action on that cold, rainy night seven years ago in Memphis.

First published in the November 27, 2009 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2009 Christopher Fenoglio

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