Friday, March 15, 2019

Lesson from Rudolph

I’m sure you know the song and the story. Probably sang the song a million times and saw the movie every Christmas since you were born.

            Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
"Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!

So . . . here’s this reindeer with a red nose. Doesn’t seem like a big deal for you or me, right? In fact, it wasn’t a big deal to Rudolph until it was brought to his attention that he was “different” that he was “unusual” that he was “odd.” He was laughed at. He was called names. He wasn’t allowed to take part in any of the games the other reindeer played. Forced to leave or watch from afar. He was left out.

But then surprisingly, someone discovered he had a gift. More importantly, there was a need for this gift. It was foggy. The fog threatened Christmas and Santa’s ability to get to where he needed to go. Santa looked at Rudolph and said, “I can use you!” Santa decided Rudolph had a purpose . . . or at least his nose did. He would lead the other reindeer and guide the sleigh. Christmas was saved by Rudolph.

Suddenly, this outcast was loved by the other reindeer. Suddenly, not only was Rudolph accepted, he became a hero. All because someone looked at Rudolph differently. All because someone looked past a nose and saw a purpose . . . saw a gift. Perhaps, because someone looked past his own nose and saw a gift, a purpose.

Looked past a (his own) nose . . .

There are kids walking hallways, sitting in classrooms, trying out for a choir, a team, a play, or who eat in the cafeteria suffering the same fate as Rudolph each and every day. Each and every day. They might wander aimlessly around a mall or sit home on weekends because they have nowhere to go or no one with whom to do anything with. Only to come back on a Monday and do it all over again.

I’m sure some of these kids don’t know they have a gift. They’ve been told over and over how odd, how different, and how unusual they are that they’ve come to accept this oddness, this unusualness, this differentness as reality, as a fact. No one has taken the time to recognize a gift, a talent, an ability in the kid, but instead, either don’t take the time or don’t have the patience or worse, just dismiss the kid as odd and different and unusual.

I’m wondering, just maybe, if we might choose a kid or two . . . or six or seven . . . or each and every kid . . . and instead of being dismissive, we look for and help the kid discover the gift, the talent, the ability he or she might have, how different life might be for that kid. I wonder what kind of difference we might make for that kid, what kind of change we might make in that kid’s world . . . life. Turn each and every kid into Rudolph. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

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There have been several great reviews for Spiral Into Darkness:

“If you enjoy thrillers, especially psychological ones, Spiral Into Darkness by Joseph Lewis will grab you good and proper in the opening two chapters. You will find yourself avidly turning pages as a serial killer accosts his victims, confirms their identities and blasts away their faces with a .38 pistol. If you are interested in both the good and bad sides of humanity and why we each turn out as we do, Spiral Into Darkness won’t disappoint.” Readers Favorites

“The Bottom Line: A thoroughly compulsive police procedural by one of America’s most promising new writers. Joseph Lewis, author of our Best of 2018 pick Caught in a Web, is back with another crime thriller featuring world-weary Milwaukee detective Jamie Graff . . . While Lewis savagely explores romance, drama, and sexuality with his wider cast of characters, Jamie’s interpersonal life is refreshingly free of drama for a cop, enabling him to be the determined, resourceful rock capable of cracking the case. The result is a thoroughly compulsive crime thriller.” Best Thrillers

Best Thrillers had previously reviewed my book, Caught in a Web. It was named as a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Thriller Fiction! Best Thrillers called it “one of the best crime thriller books of the year!” I am both proud and humbled.

If you do read Caught in a Web, Spiral Into Darkness, or any of my other books, please leave a rating and a review. I would appreciate it. Thanks for this consideration!

Spiral Into Darkness:
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

Caught in a Web:
The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.                 

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.                 

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.                 

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.

Photo Courtesy of Tim Gouw and Unsplash 


  1. I watched the Rudolph special every Christmas until a few years ago because I realized something. Yes, someone looked past the outcast's difference and helped him find a purpose. But there's a darker side: the hypocrisy of those who rejected him in the first place. Rudolph's own father goes from "He'll never make the sleigh team... let's hide his nose" to "I knew his nose would be useful someday." Even Santa says, when the disguise falls off, "You should be ashamed of yourself, what a pity." Whether he's upset that Rudolph is different or that he had to disguise himself at all is unclear. He goes from that to asking Rudolph to guide his sleigh only when the need presented itself. That says a lot.

  2. Great points! Yes, adults often make mistakes and kids suffer because of it. I take comfort in that the adults eventually recognize Rudolph's talent and uniqueness. I only wish all mistakes ended this way.


Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe