Wristbands, Ribbons And Bumper Stickers


It is official, all of America is aware!   Yesterday, millions of women across the United States told their friends, acquaintances, and the world the color of a particular undergarment and in the process, broadcasted the fact that there is a disease called Breast Cancer.  Now if you have survived this disease or know of someone that is a cancer survivor, one of the least important pieces of information you need is the color of someone’s bra, but now we all feel we have done our part in the fight.

In 1973, Tony Orlando recorded a song written by Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown titled, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.”  Then in December 1979, Penelope Laingen, wife of one of the Iran hostages, tied a yellow ribbon around a tree at her Maryland home. The ribbon symbolized that we had not forgotten the American hostages and that we were praying for and working toward their release.  We were helpless to participate in rescuing the hostages but we could all tie on a yellow ribbon and feel better.  This started the “Awareness Ribbon” craze.

My research turned up an unbelievable number of color and color-combinations of ribbons, all with several meanings and causes attached.  Some of the most common are Pink-breast cancer awareness, Yellow-support our troops, Red-the fight against HIV and heart disease awareness, Purple – domestic violence awareness and victims of 9/11, Blue-victims of drunk driving and child abuse, Green-environmental awareness, White-Right to Life, and of course the Rainbow ribbon for gay rights.  If you are not into wearing ribbons then slap a bumper sticker on your car, make a statement with a t-shirt or flash a wristband, it won’t accomplish anything for your cause but we will all know how much you care.

As Christians, we have bought into the whole “Symbolism over Substance” philosophy.  It’s much easier to wear a WWJD bracelet, an inspirational t-shirt or a cross lapel pin than actually speak to someone about Jesus.  Have you ever “honked because you loved Jesus,” only to have that person cuss you out or flash an obscene gesture?  “I don’t get involved in any of that symbolism,” you may say, but have you ever told a needy person, “I’ll pray for you” as you walk swiftly past?  Another of my favorite feel-good phrases is, “If there is anything I can do, give me a call.”  Have you ever received a call?  Probably not, but at least you offered.

Here’s a novel idea that just might work if anyone would dare give it a try.  Instead of telling the world your bra color, call your local cancer center and volunteer to be a support person.  If you know someone suffering through chemo, put some legs on your prayers and clean their house, prepare dinner for their family, hold their head as their puking out their guts, then lovingly wash their face and help them back to bed.  Instead of picketing an abortion clinic, help out a confused young girl by assisting her in keeping or adopting out her baby by providing infant essentials, support or mentoring.  I know from experience that the local homeless shelter and soup kitchens are always looking for donations and volunteers.  Although flowers may be a lot easier, a person who has just lost a loved one can always use a simple meal, someone to clean up after the visitors or a sympathetic listener.

The Bible tells us that Jesus went about DOING good.  It’s laughable to think that His disciples could have evangelized the world by wearing a red, white or purple ribbon.  It may be easier, give you a warm, fuzzy feeling because you “care,’ and make your neighbor more aware, but there is still no cure, many children went to bed hungry last night, another baby was eliminated because a mother felt there was no alternative, and your neighbor still doesn’t know that Jesus loves her.  The next time someone asks me to wear a ribbon, share the color of my underwear or post something on Facebook to declare my faith, I think I will examine the cause and put a little substance to the symbolism by actually getting involved.  On second thought, why wait until someone asks?


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