On Monday night I watched all of America Pray. The scene on the football field at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati after Damar Hamlin a young 23-year-old safety for the Buffalo Bills collapsed on the field after taking what looked like a routine hit to his chest while making a tackle, was repeated in homes, bars, and airports and everywhere across the country. Watching paramedics administer CPR, cardiovert and intubate their teammate—now a patient, while still on the field was something none of those brave men who play such a violent game had ever seen, or almost everyone who was watching or reporting the event in real time had ever experienced.
To be cardioverted twice within a 9-minute period and three days later be neurologic intact is testimony to the physical condition of the young athlete, but just as importantly to the expertise of the health care providers at the scene and in the trauma department at University Hospital in Cincinnati. Let’s not forget, however the prayers of millions of Americans. I practiced trauma surgery for 24 years in the military and the civilian world, and I have seen the power of prayer, and on more than one occasion seen people recover after being resuscitated successfully for prolonged periods of time and then return to normalcy—sometimes after prolonged periods of rehabilitation.
The secular media had trouble dealing with the scene of both teams kneeling and praying together. And together was the word. They were no longer Buffalo Bills or Cincinnati Bengals, or Black, White, Hispanic, or Samoan. They were “comrades in arms”. When the game was cancelled and both teams returned to their locker rooms the captains of the Bengal team including their star quarterback Joey Burroughs led their team over to the Bills locker room under the stadium to join the opposing team in PRAYER. Brave men who do dangerous things have to overcome their fear. Many if not most pray in such times. This was also my experience in the military where the players—especially those who were pilots and, in the infantry, prayed often and unapologetically. The media seldom reports on this. In fact, before and after games the cameras are taken off the field when the players are openly praying.
I played college football and have talked to several of my teammates over the phone since the accident. Before we hung up, they all said to me something like “remember Damar in your prayers”. Same with my high school teammates. Even the ones who we wouldn’t consider “religious” were praying. Maybe as we grow older, we grow more “spiritual”. If not, more importantly maybe we become more FAITHFUL. Maybe as we age, we realize how fragile life is and how grateful we should be for every moment we have to love each other. Being a teammate for many of the players we watch on the “fields of play” is their only family. That realization is coming very early on to those young players who were praying on the field in Cincinnati. And maybe those who have actual “skin in the game” of life come to realize it sooner. That may be precisely why we should educate our children to be “the doers of deeds” and as Teddy Roosevelt says be “the man in the arena” and not the critic. Don’t be a “virtue signaler. Don’t be a “rent seeker” and always strive to have skin in the game—just like those football players, or Navy pilots, or “grunts on the ground, or those paramedics and doctors and nurses who work in trauma centers and perform without fanfare everyday what we as a nation watched them do Monday night.
To the progressive secularists who take singular pride in their “rationality”, the idea of individual and communal prayer during difficult times is a “sign of our humanity”. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a sign of our humility and faith. People of faith—I should say people who believe in God are not “toxic” or “deplorable and superstitious”. G. K. Chesterton described the fact that because we have faith does not mean that we also don’t rely on reason when reason is called for—I fancy myself a scientist and a Believer consistent with the tradition of many great Christian-Judeo Scientists from Galileo and Copernicus, to Pascual, Einstein, and Schroeder. Chesterton describes our position today very well:
“The madman is not the man who has lost his reason, but the man who has lost everything except his reason” We are a great nation, indeed we are “Exceptional”, because we were founded by Christian men who incorporated Christian and Natural Law principles into our founding and into the fabric of our American culture. We are today fighting a cultural war and believers must be at the front of the fight. To win we must first as a people experience a new GREAT AWAKENING.