When I think of Great Britain, I have warm, happy thoughts. After all, the US has no greater ally than Britain. Sure, there was that revolution with them and a subsequent war in 1812, but those were both over two hundred years ago. After that, we’ve been the best of buds.

Not so fast. For most of our history as a country, we’ve been at odds with Great Britain. For most of our history! So what changed?

Between 1895 and the beginning of World War I, a lot of social and political things happened that softened our governmental hearts toward each other. But one event early on eased the distrust between the two countries.

Britain lost a ship. We found it. We gave it back. That’s it.

In the 1850s, Britain was trying to find a route to the Pacific Ocean by going north instead of waaay south. The expedition to find the northwest passage was led by Sir John Franklin, but their fate became unknown. The HMS Resolute was one of several ships sent out to find the wayward expedition.  In 1853, the Resolute got trapped in ice. A cold front came through and the ship was encased in ice. Months later, the ship was still stuck, so the entire crew left the ship, marched across the ice, and eventually headed for home.

Two years later, on September 10, 1855, an American ship found the Resolute floating free of ice and free of any crew. They brought the abandoned ship back to the American shore. Maritime law said that any property abandoned on the open seas became the property of the finders. Y’know, finders keepers, losers weepers.

The US and Britain were not exactly exchanging Christmas cards at this point, but the US made the first gesture. Our country willingly chose to restore the damaged ship and return it to England. Congress voted to do this as a “national courtesy.”

In 1856, England got their ship back, and when the HMS Resolute was retired in 1879, Britain made the next gesture. A desk was constructed out of the ship’s timber, and the Resolute desk was presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. Almost every president since that time has used the desk.

And with that, a few bricks in the wall of international relations began to fall.

When two individuals or groups don’t get along, sometimes the simplest gesture can make all the difference. We’ve certainly seen how the smallest act—even if it’s unintentional—can be misunderstood or lead to an escalation in bad feelings. Just the opposite is true: the smallest gesture of kindness can do wonders.

I’ll forgive him if he comes to me.

Let me state this with all the dignity I can muster. GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE AND MAKE THE FIRST MOVE. I don’t care who started it or who’s at fault. You be the first one to make a move and correct things.

Anything less than that is unbiblical and wrong.

  • Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:31-32).
  • “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).

What are you waiting for? Get off the Internet and make things right.

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