Sidewalk Ghosts / Interview 508: “Defend it… Because what’s next.”

“’If I could say anything to the next generation, ‘safeguard that religious liberty, even if you are not necessarily a religious person…’” —Blair Treu

There is a theme threading through our stories this week, partially brought to us via a film I’ve been covering; but more profoundly through a common connector that has been expressed in so many of Operation-365’s interviews of strangers, now friends. 100s of viewpoints to a spiritual bridge that has the potential to heal and direct us. A three-letter noun that can be written in limitless words and narratives, as it is expressed and, even, felt. It reveals itself in all languages and is known to all mankind, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion; in it, wisdom can be found. That word: God.

We all have our personal outlooks on higher power. Billions of individual opinions regarding the divine nature of our creators form grounds and divides us. From ornate houses of worship to the intimate conversations of singular voices, we, as people, ebb and flow in argument and agreement concerning our origins, our purpose and the ever eluding, where are we going.

But one thing is powerfully unavoidable. Whatever spiritual belief we accept. Whoever we dedicate our meditations, prayers and hearts to; and how and what we choose to follow in acknowledging our celestial inspiration, we all have equal right to decide for ourselves.

Yet in our quest for our spiritual enlightenment, we sometimes forget that we are not alone. That by our sides can be found the richness of heavenly gifts. Gifts that, if we raise our hearts above the pull of the world. Beyond the nets of our fears, opinions and pains, are favors that perhaps can provide us the peace, direction, warmth and resolve; and yes, even the blessings we are hungry for. With this said, we must also accept that we have untapped power within us all: The power to choose, the opportunity to decide and the strength to see and receive. Thus, the answer lies in our own hands.

As today’s stranger, now friend, Director of “Meet the Mormons,” Blair Treu so eloquently qualifies, “You can’t impact any change in the world unless it starts right here at home.” He point at his chest. Gesturing for us all to look into ourselves in deciding to whom and for what cause, we commit our spiritual selves and works to. “It’s easy to ask everyone else to do it. It is a lot more difficult to do it yourself.” Blair reflects.

“What words of wisdom would I share?” Blair qualifies my question as we begin our interview. He calms, “’I’d probably echo what Christ said. ‘Do unto others.’ If you are treating others the way you want to be treated, can you imagine what impact that would have? I guess, if I were to distill it down to something that was, maybe more culturally relevant, then I guess I would say, ‘Do unto others, and it starts with me.’”

Blair makes no claim of self-grandeur; a tendency that so often infects the coveted title of “director;” and please, I mean no insult to all of my industry friends. As we all know, there is so much responsibility to driving a project and it is very difficult to look away from the goal posts when all the weight to deliver is on you shoulders. Just, there is something different about Blair. A peace. Tranquility. An outside of himself focus that is magnetizing.

It took me a little time to see it at first. We began our days working together with the usual set of questions. The expected social graces and checks on creative direction. Even the usual cell phone checks filled the hours as Blair revolved from set, to screening, to mobile device. At times so deep into his correspondence that the world around him seemed to disappear.

Now here is a bit of fact mixed with speculation. The real meat to what dropped me to my knees in respect for Blair. You see, only days before our meeting, his son was involved in what the doctors called, “A fatal auto accident.” I found this out later. Nevertheless, something in the depths of my heart tells me that many of his correspondence just might have been more related to family than to business; again speculation, but speculation that so well aligns with Blair’s character. You could see it in his eyes–a love that was connected to something far beyond the ins and outs of industry responsibilities. Yes, Blair was present, but in standing by his side, you could sense his concern for the people around him, and I am certain for his son.

Blair is a man of great faith. A faith that is evident in his attitude towards the world. One that is fully owned, yet boldly, condemns not. However, he does have worry about the world. “A big issue for me right now is the whole concept of religious freedom. It’s cool to believe in god, but it’s not cool to be religious. Organized religion kind of has a bad rap right now; and I don’t fully understand that, because it’s when we organize that we can really affect change. If you want to feed the homeless, you organize,” he bravely charges as he opens up, “I believe in God.”

“Our gifts are from God. They are not ours. I can’t brag about them, because they are not mine. They are on loan. We all have gifts that we are given. It is our responsibility to find out what they are, and to expand upon them as best we can.

“’If I could say anything to the next generation, ‘safeguard that religious liberty, even if you are not necessarily a religious person. Because that liberty is what, at least in the country that I grew up in, is founded on. Without that, you have complete dictatorship. So defend it. Even if you are not particularly religious yourself, defend it. Because what’s next? What the next thing to go?'”

Readers, forgive me, I almost forgot to let you know. After days in a coma, Blair’s son opened his eyes. Looks like some prayers were answered.

Blair, thank you for opening our eyes to your faithful outlook. Take care good friend.

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