for release February 21, 2003

Another Way

by Melodie Davis

Thank God For Brains That Aren't Like Mine

I am in awe of people with brains that are not like mine. In one day, three separate incidents impressed upon me that each of our brains are wired very differently. For which we can be thankful.
                ** A technically-savvy nephew comes to our home and in a matter of minutes, tells us how to get our new DVD player to run using a 1988 era TV set (answer: run it through your VCR, no loss of quality because it's digital.)
                ** A friend's son assures his father that he "thinks he got an 800" on the math portion of his SAT's (college entrance exam, a perfect score). The son said, "I knew how to do them all, and I had time to check them, so unless I made a computation mistake, I should have gotten them all." Oh to have a mind like that.
                ** I present a perplexing problem to our webmaster/designer, the day before Christmas Eve. I'm afraid it will be just one more additional annoyance he could do without as he's trying to head out of town for the holidays. He e-mails back with an easy solution. No problem.
This makes me think of the Bible passage that says we each have been given different kinds of gifts-special knowledge, wisdom, faith. I hope my brain is good for certain kinds of thinking, but no one will ever give me a prize for math or tech smarts.
This reminds me of the brainwork observed in the movie, "Thirteen Days," which our family watched over Christmas vacation on video. It is about the Cuban missile crisis between the Soviet Union and the U.S. in October 1962, and the gut wrenching, difficult decisions that the men surrounding John F. Kennedy had to make (they did appear to be all men in leadership back then). They were only too aware that the shadow of nuclear war hung over the whole world and only they knew about it. An awesome power lay in their hands that would directly affect their own wives, children and way of life.
I had to think that the tensions, stress and tremendous pressure surrounding Kennedy and his advisors are very similar to today's tensions and difficult decisions. For instance, Kennedy demanded "U.N.-led weapons inspections" in Cuba just like we've had in Iraq. But I was impressed with his continual hounding of his advisors for new and better solutions to the ever-evolving crisis. The military personnel had the solutions they were trained to respond with, which Kennedy feared would escalate the conflict. Kennedy, his brother Robert, and special-aide-to-the-president played by Kevin Costner negotiated and second-guessed their way through a series of nail biting scenarios. We know now they prevented nuclear war - and they all breathed easier when the "good brains" hung in there and toughed it out. The movie nicely showed it takes guts and tenacity to be a peacemaker or "appeaser" in that situation, as Adlai Stevenson (U.N. Ambassador) proved when he offered an idea that he realized had the potential to kill him politically.   
As a family we also saw "Lord of the Rings: Two Towers" over the holidays (when my girls are home, they lighten up my life by making sure I read the cartoons and watch some movies). It's another movie that makes one reflect on the horror of war, the nature of good and evil, and whether novelist J.R.R. Tolkien intended Lord of the Rings as a pro-war or anti-war statement. Most critics say he was really only trying to spin a good yarn for his son.
But talk about differently gifted brains! It blows my mind first of all to have the mind of a Tolkien to create the fantasy creatures and epic plotlines. Then to have the mind of the movie producer, Peter Jackson, and the wherewithal to take on a project of this scope and make it all work! That too is cause to stand in awe of the human brain.
This leads me to God as the creator of the brains that are capable of all this magic, grandeur, grit, and wisdom-and I'm talking far beyond movie producers here. God has given us all brainpower, and the more we push and use our brain, the better it literally becomes. Just think how far beyond our imagination and fantasy the Creator of the human brain must be! 
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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.

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