One of my favorite movies is Forrest Gump, and one of my favorite parts of the movie is when Forrest returns from the war in Vietnam and buys a shrimp boat business, naming it Bubba Gump Shrimp. With no shrimping experience and an over-abundance of competition, Forrest has limited success. That is, until Hurricane Carmen hits the Gulf Coast. The storm decimates the shrimping industry in the area. Forrest Gump’s boat Jenny was at sea at the time of the hurricane. It suffered damage from the storm but was not destroyed by being blown on land like other boats. Forrest's business prospered after the hurricane, leading to an abundance of shrimp while also eliminating much of the competition. He turned his profits into multimillion dollar investments and fame within the financial world.
This storyline reminds me of a quote I hear occasionally that one should “never let a good crisis go to waste.” It is a phrase describing how times of crisis and chaos create opportunities to fix things, change things, try new things, or stop doing things that may have been impossible to even consider in normal times. Forrest did not waste his opportunity and he took total advantage of the hurricane's devastation. He did not let the crisis go to waste.
It is safe to say that the multiple crises of 2020 – the pandemic, social and racial unrest, and political animosity – have disrupted just about every aspect of our lives in 2020: work, school, graduations, gatherings and vacations, theatrical performances, concerts, festivals, sporting events, elections, family reunions, worship, weddings, and even funerals for loved ones we have lost. These disruptions have led to real hardships and loss for too many of our fellow citizens, making it incumbent on all of us not to let this crisis go to waste. As a society, we have been challenged to respond. We owe it to each other to not let this moment pass without each of us finding ways to improve ourselves and our approach to caring for our neighbors.
Back to the movie, I remember the scene where Lieutenant Dan lifts himself out of his wheelchair, hoists himself over the bow of the boat, and calmly swims the backstroke out into the calm waters after the storm as the sun sets behind a bank of clouds. As the scene closes, Forrest offers his thoughts on the moment, telling viewers that maybe Lieutenant Dan, after a long season of bitterness and anger at the world, had finally made his peace with God. This holiday season, I wish for each of you that sense of peace as we all look to put the crisis and challenges of 2020 behind us and look forward to a new year filled with hope and opportunity.