Nathan is “Normal!”

nathan bradley

Now this article is in no way an effort to diminish or make light of what Georgia State Trooper Nathan Bradley has and is doing for the Howard family. In fact in praise of what he has done and is doing, I wrote an article, just last week, applauding the actions of Trooper Bradley in his efforts to help and comfort the Howard family after the tragic loss of Donald and Crystal Howard. (See: Thank You: Georgia State Trooper Nathan Bradley) However, this article is a comment on how far we have fallen as a society!

I thought about this as I read the countless comments in response to what Trooper Bradley has done that described him as being “an extraordinary person” or a “super human being!” As I read those comments, I thought about an illustration Jesus gave that is recorded in Luke 17:7-10, Jesus asked his listeners: “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” (Luke 17:7-10 ESV) The point Jesus was making was that one should not expect to receive praise or reward for merely doing what is required! My point in citing the illustration is to point out the fact that what Nathan Bradley did and is doing is really not extraordinary, but rather it is really “normal” human behavior! We deem it as extraordinary because, in our society, the milk of human compassion and the love for other human beings has so dissipated that “normal” good, moral, and loving behavior is considered as something above and beyond! Now again, this is not to diminish the actions of Nathan Bradley, but rather it is a call for us to realistically look at ourselves as a society!

It has gotten to the point that you really don’t have to do anything extraordinary to be considered extraordinary! An example of this attitude is reflected in our educational system. Today, many school systems have implemented programs that reward students for “good behavior!” But when I was in school, “good behavior” was normal and expected, so the only awards and rewards given were for good grades! At my house, the only rewards I received were for really good grades! I said “really good grades” because in the house I grew up in, excellence was command, required and expected, therefore, average grades were neither acceptable nor rewarded! But our standards have fallen so low today that many students expect to be rewarded just for showing up for class! (And it’s sad to say, but in some cases they are!)

No! Nathan is not extraordinary; Nathan is normal! If what he did and what he is doing seems extraordinary, it is because we have accepted the-less-than-normal as being normal for so long that we think what is actually normal is extraordinary! But it really is “normal” to love your neighbor as yourself!

So, if what Nathan Bradley did on the evening of October 31, 2015 and what he has been doing in the aftermath of this tragedy really is “normal,” then what does that say about the inaction of people who see people in need on a daily basis and make no effort to help them? What does that say about us as a society? And if what he did and is doing really is extraordinary, then what does that say about us as a society if we deem the daily insensitivity, violence, hatred, and inhuman treatment to be normal? Not judging; just thinking! What do you think?

Thank You: Georgia State Trooper Nathan Bradley!

crystal and donald howardFor me, this all started with two names in the local obituary column; Crystal and Donald Howard. Being the naturally curious person that I am, noting that the last names were the same, I wanted to find out if and how they were related and what was the story of their deaths. After some internet searching, I discovered their Facebook page and learned that they were a married couple who died in a tragic automobile accident, not far from their home in Newborn, GA on Halloween night (October 31, 2015). They went to the store to get some face-painting and other things for the kids, with the intention of coming right back home! Unfortunately, less than a mile from their home, Donald Howard lost control of the vehicle and they ended up colliding with a tree and both Donald and Crystal died at the scene!
nathan bradleyNow after praying for the family, this would have been the end of my interest in the story had it not been for the actions of Georgia State Patrol Trooper Nathan Bradley. Trooper Bradley, who was on patrol in nearby Rockdale County, Georgia heard the call on his radio and took it upon himself to make the twenty-minute drive to the accident scene in a neighboring county. He, along with a local deputy and the county coroner, made the notification of death visit to the home of the family. When they arrived, they discovered four children, ages 6 – 13, who were waiting for their parents to return home. At that point and time, not wanting to ruin their Halloween, Trooper Bradley didn’t have the heart to tell them that their parents were dead. So, after making contact with their paternal grandmother in south Florida, Trooper Bradley took it upon himself to personally see after the children until their grandmother could make the 7-hour trip to take custody. He fed them, he entertained them, he put them to bed, all the while knowing and they not knowing their parents were dead!
Now at this point, Trooper Bradley had already gone beyond the call of duty, but he wasn’t finished yet! He had given the oldest child his phone number and told the boy to call him if they needed anything. The next day, the boy; Justin Donald, contacted Trooper Bradley and informed him that it would cost about $7,000 to transport the bodies of his parents back to Florida, along with other typical funeral expenses. Trooper Bradley felt that it was important that the children be able to visit the graves of their parents. In his mind, it just wouldn’t be right for the parents to be buried in Georgia while the children were living in Florida. So, he established a Go Fund Me account, with the initial goal of covering the seven thousand dollar transportation and funeral expense. The account was set up on November 4 and as of the writing of this post on November 5, the initial goal has been bypassed by over $170,000! At the very moment I am writing this, 4,756 people have given $178,865 in just two days! By the time I finish editing and publishing, I suspect it will be well over $200,000!
the howard childrenThank you Georgia State Patrol Trooper Nathan Bradley! You sir, along with those who helped you care for those children in the initial hours after the tragedy, have helped me to regain my faith in humanity! We are bombarded with bad news of shootings, police brutality, gang violence, and war every day! It seems as if the whole world has gone to Hell in a hand-basket! But you sir, provide living proof that there are still people who genuinely care! And so, I thank you! But not only do I thank you, I also thank Donald and Crystal Howard! I thank them because, it was obvious to me, from reading the story, that they were great parents, who instilled strong morals and values in their children! Thank you, Justin Donald, the oldest of the children, along with your brothers and sister, for being strong and brave in your hour of tragedy! I can’t imagine the pain you must be feeling right now! This story has touched me in a deep way and I don’t personally know anyone involved. So I know the situation must be weighting on you and your siblings, along with the rest of the family heavily! Thank you, to the grandmother from Florida, who will be taking care of these children and to all of the rest of the family. I want you to know that you will constantly be in my thoughts and prayers!
Chances are, Georgia State Trooper Nathan Bradley, Justin Donald, his grandmother from Florida, or any of the many others who were directly involved will never read this blog post, but still I felt to need to publicly say thank you! All of you, along with Donald and Crystal Howard (May they rest in peace in the presence of our Loving Father) have served to inspire me to be a better person, knowing that there are yet people in the world who genuinely love and care! Again, thank you!

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