I have a family heirloom in my office. It’s about six inches long, wooden , with a slug of lead embedded in one end. It’s a blackjack and it tells a story that you would not discern by simply picking up the weighty weapon. The blackjack reminds me there are times we must dare to do good by preventing evil.
One night, in the early 1900s, the weapon came into the possession of Grandpa Tom, my dad’s father. Tom was a young teen and was spending that early evening with two older friends, one of whom was named Mickey. Here’s how Tom told the story to my dad.
Mickey told us he was going waylay someone on their way home that night. The guy he planned to rob usually had a wad of money on him and Mickey knew his usual route of travel. Then Mickey pulled the blackjack out of his pocket and said “I’m going to sneak up behind him and knock him out with this blackjack and take his money.” I thought this was a bad idea both for the man and for Mickey. But he would not to be talked out of it. A little while later, when Mickey wasn’t paying attention, I was able to slip the blackjack out of his coat pocket and into my own. I figured if he didn’t have the weapon he wouldn’t try the crime and I was right. Mickey later told me he had somehow lost the blackjack and had to call off the robbery.
Grandpa Tom never told Mickey he was the one who liberated the blackjack. I think he was afraid if he did Mickey might use it on him. So Grandpa kept it and passed it along to my Dad who entrusted it to me, along with the lesson that we must sometimes be brave to prevent evil.
The choice my Grandpa made that night became a lesson and a continual reminder to me every time I look at the blackjack. The small but brave choices we make can impact generations.