Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Where True Power Comes From

About ten years ago, there was a commercial that seemed to run fairly often, so perhaps you saw it, too.  It featured a young girl saying, "I don't care what you think!  I'm gonna do what I want."  The ad was for the Girl Scouts.

All of my common sense "danger" beacons flashed every time I saw it because there is a serious difference between encouraging self-confidence and fomenting open defiance.  This ad (intentionally or not) advocated the latter, and that certainly would not be what I'd expect from a group that is supposedly mentoring young people to become reliable adults.

I wondered what would happen down the road if various groups were espousing such guidelines for behavior.  And it seems that we are beginning to see some of the consequences from that sort of poor teaching.

My thinking is that we need to learn the rules, to learn to get along and go along, to learn to follow.  Only once we know those things will we be fit to lead.  Only once we know those things will we be aware of when to break the rules and of how to do so effectively.  We have to understand common sense and consequence so that we can keep ourselves and others safe, so that society continues to move forward and to function appropriately, so that we all will have the opportunity to do better in the future. 

If each person follows only his own path and knows no boundaries or self-control, the result is anarchy. 

I see a lot of things these days that worry and offend, and these often appear to be the results of this over-emphasis on the rights of the individual.  This past week I was deeply annoyed when a Major League pitcher thought that his wants and wishes were more important that anyone else's. 

What do I care about baseball?  Well, I have had a fantasy baseball team since 2002.  (I've written about this before:  The Boys of Summer .)  I kinda love my little team.  And I am bothered when a player does something offensive--that's why I will never, ever put Ryan Braun on my team again.  I don't like people who lie or cheat or use others to get ahead.  I've been conflicted this season about having Rougned Odor on my team after he punched another player unnecessarily but I try to give a second chance. 

But the actions of another player were so colossally ridiculous and destructive this week that I was willing to take a loss in points just to get rid of him:  Chris Sale.

Maybe you didn't hear the story.  The White Sox were planning to wear throw-back uniforms for one game but Sale thought they were uncomfortable.  So he pitched a tantrum instead of a baseball.  He shredded ALL of the uniforms so that no one could wear them.

Those uniforms would have been auctioned after the game and the money earned would have been given to charity

Sale is more than well-compensated for his athletic efforts.  He is fortunate enough to be healthy and strong.  Others are neither.  Because he thinks that what he wants is more important, others will now not have what they need.

He has not apologized; indeed, he has defended his actions.

Wearing something slightly uncomfortable for a couple of hours seems like a small price to pay when it comes to the greater good.

Sale may be a Major League baseball player but his behavior with these uniforms is representative of the actions of a very minor league human being.  And that is a sad thing indeed.  No one can be truly successful unless they lift others along with themselves.

Contrary to what that old Girl Scouts commercial said, we do need to care what others think.  And sometimes we need to do what others want us to do.

There is tremendous power to be gained in learning self-control--power that can be used both for the good of oneself and for the welfare of others.  There is tremendous power in empathy and in the willingness to make small sacrifices in the name of the general good.  We need to see examples of heroism so that others may learn that we are each capable of being a hero to someone.  Being cooperative, even when it comes to something as small as wearing a shirt you don't care for personally, can be very much a form of heroism.

When we fail to learn these life lessons, others are the poorer for it.  And the world as a whole becomes weaker.

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