In late 2011, I was watching my life become more public. And while that can lead to many great things... when you find yourself in "the public forum" you also become a target. There had been a recent incident where someone had uttered serious public threats about me and a friend of mine. It was shortly after the "Occupy" craze. In all the fun of Yurts and fire's in park garbage cans, I had somehow become one of the "1%" who was apparently oppressing the public. An odd conclusion to make about a guy in a superhero costume giving away hot dogs, but none-the-less, it happened.
It didn't freak me out too much though, as when I started doing ministry as a young man, I resolved to live life FULL ON regardless of consequence. Weird though. A very weird feeling indeed. Then one morning I woke up to NUMEROUS emails from friends with a link to a YouTube video in which a character (who bears a stunning resemblance to Captain Kindness) is emotionally destroyed, has his house burned down and is eventually murdered.
This video was shot in my neighborhood. At first I was a bit flattered at the homage! To be engrained enough into a community's pop culture to be spoofed is a high compliment. But the second time I watched it, given my escalated level of safety-awareness... it felt ugly to me. I still don't like seeing it. And Pete Thiessen played "me" in the video. Many were very very angry and wanted me to approach the police... including a number in law enforcement. I was close to saying yes. But I believed this video to be merely a misguided attempt at humor and left it alone.
This past summer, I got to meet Pete a number of times.. as Captain Kindness. I had the chance to chat with him and his kids. It was so clear how much he loved his kids. He even had them participate in some of our kindness outreaches! Then only a about month ago at Frosty Fest, Pete introduced himself to me (again as Captain Kindness) and told me about that video. He told me with, noticeable sincerity, that he'd heard that it had caused some issues. He assured me that there was no harm meant and hoped to put in behind us. I admitted to him that it had caused a stir but ALL was forgiven and forgotten and that I was THRILLED to have him and his family with us at Frosty Fest. SOMETHING... had been turned into NOTHING because Pete had courage and took a brave step as a peacemaker. And today I can mourn Pete's life with those who mourn him, including a number in my church.
My reflection today is the Christ-Message of "turn the other cheek." It's a tough one sometimes. We often mistakenly think of it masochistically. I think it's really more of a "I'm gonna choose to not gonna make a big deal about everything" because as Matthew recorded Jesus saying,
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God"
So while I'll now never get to know Pete Thiessen well, I will always carry a testimony of his life and how I can call him a "Peacemaker" in my life.
Rest in PEACE Pete. Tweet