We Can If We Will

When I worked in a steel mill, we used large battery powered fork lifts which were capable of carrying over 40,000 pounds. Their batteries were recharged daily and because charging batteries give off highly explosive hydrogen gas, the walls behind, around and over the charging stations had huge three foot high red letter warnings: “DANGER! EXPLOSIVE GAS! NO SMOKING! In short, the only way you could miss it, was to be blind or stupid. One day I saw three men smoking right in front of the charging station. If it hadn’t been so serious, it would have been funny, because they could have been an advertisement for stupidity, standing there smoking while ringed with huge red no smoking signs.

I asked them if they could read. One of them laughed and assured me that they could, so I asked them to step away from the enclave and look back at the wall. “What do you see?” I asked.

The first man answered, “What?” The second answered “Yeh, so what? I’ve worked here for a long time and I ain’t never seen one blow up.”

I told him that if he had seen one blow up, he would not be alive. I tried to explain to them just how serious the danger was, and that it was actually far greater than they realized because at that very moment, we were purging line furnaces with hydrogen gas, and a spark could have touched off an explosion which would have wiped out that entire section of the mill, and a large portion of the surrounding community.

The “It can’t happen to me” attitude that these three exhibited, amazes me. Most of us, live with that notion, and in truth, that is not all bad, but when it causes us to ignore obvious danger, or to throw caution to the wind, and place ourselves and others in jeopardy, that’s a different story. As these men did, we often take for granted that because something has never happened, it cannot happen. Or we assume that because something has always been, it will continue unchanged.

Each of us must examine our hearts. We must seek to see where we can do our jobs more efficiently, and more effectively. It does not matter what your job is. It can be done better, and with God’s help, this will be a better year. We can if I will.

Chaplain Fred Jeans


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