Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

To BUILD or to BURN?

On a recent Saturday my wife and I took our kids to play at one of our favorite parks in Sarajevo.  Jezero Park is one of the largest green spaces in the city and includes a running path, an exercise trail, and four playgrounds.  Elijah (three years old) and Izzy (five years old) usually play for hours, sliding, swinging and climbing.

When we arrived at the park, the kids were excited.  We descended the long steps surrounded by green grass and trees bent over with their ripe summer fruit.  However, when we arrived at the first playground, we found that it had been completely burned to the ground.  Examining the charred remains, it was clearly not the result of a carelessly thrown cigarette.  Someone decided to have a barbecue underneath the slide.  Someone was freezing during the recent unseasonable cold weather and decided to warm themselves beside a “slide-fire.”

Someone thought it would be cool to destroy something.

I was disappointed and angry.

I showed the burned down slide to the kids and asked them, “How long do you think it took someone to make this?”

“Like days,” Izzy responded.

“One thousand twenty nine,” answered Elijah, using the universal numbering system of children.

“Yes, it took a long long time to build this.  Someone had to cut down a tree and then turn that tree into this usable wood.  Then they needed to build it into this slide.  It probably took months to build.

“How long do you think it took to destroy it?”

“Probably an hour,” Izzy calculated.

“It is always easier to destroy something than it is to build it.  That is just a fact of life.  What kind of people do we want to be?  Burners or builders?”

“Builder!” shouted Elijah.

“That’s right.  We build even though it is harder.  We are makers not breakers.”

“Those who do not have the courage to build, destroy.”

This little interaction with my children reminded me how quickly we (humans) can destroy what took years to construct.  It takes no talent, courage, or intelligence to destroy.  It is the courageous who build, the skilled who construct, the intelligent who make. Each day we make a choice to build or burn, to make or destroy.  I want to be a builder.

Coming up next: Get angry!

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