A Lesson from Survivor

“WHAT did he just say?”

That question and others like it must have resounded through the living rooms of America on Sunday night. I know it was asked in mine, repeatedly and with passion.

No, our ears had not deceived us. After standing on a pole for almost TWELVE hours, after refusing to make a deal which would guarantee him $100,000 and give him a shot at a million, one of the three remaining contestants on the show Survivor voluntarily took himself out of the competition.

America was shocked. Well, at least my little corner of America was. Why, you might ask, would anyone do such a thing? What could be such a powerful force that it would drive someone to do something so seemingly insane?

Only one thing, my friends. The power of forgiveness. For a chance at redemption, Ian willingly gave up his chance at a million dollars. Would we all do the same? Perhaps not. But I saw the look on his face after he had made his decision. After telling Tom to take Katie to the Final Round, after receiving forgiveness for his previous actions, Ian was grinning from ear to ear.

The show Survivor, like life, is often about self-preservation. In pursuit of that goal, Ian had lied to and manipulated his friends. The night before they had expressed their disappointment and disgust with his actions. He must have had a lot to think about during his twelve hours on that pole.

Twelve hours is a very long time to be left alone with your own thoughts. Sometime during that period Ian made a decision that we can all take a lesson from. He chose to not only ask for forgiveness, but to make a sacrifice to show his remorse.

As we go through life, it’s easy to earn the resentment of others. Sometimes in our quest for self-preservation, whether at work or within our social circles, we find ourselves making choices that we are less than proud of.

Occasionally we find the nerve to apologize. But it’s a rare event for someone in this day and age to make a significant sacrifice to regain the respect of someone that they’ve hurt. Even to regain some self-respect, we don’t often make a choice to accept consequences that will impact us deeply.

Many will say that Ian was crazy to make the choice that he made. I say good for him. By choosing to send his friends to the Final Round and eliminate himself, Ian sent a powerful message to America. He reminded us that integrity is worth more than money. It’s a lesson that we should all take to heart.

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