Forced Integrity on a World Stage

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and yet what if the picture is out of focus?  Every four years the Olympic stage reminds us how small of a world we live in as athletes from all corners of the globe converge to compete for medals, glory and vindication.  They walk through the gates and their country, race, religion are left behind.  They are athletes.

As sure as there will be upsets and moments of glory, with every passing Olympics the rules and standards that are created and enforced to keep the playing field “even” suggest that we (as in the human race “we”) might still benefit from attending a Human Race 101 class now and then for review purposes.

Doping…I get it. That’s just not o.k. to rely on modern medicine when the 17-year-old you are competing against has logged 10 hours of training a day since she was four to get there.  But the social media sanctions?  Telling athletes what they can and cannot text to their friends and followers?  Are we at that point where we cannot simply handle people who lack common sense by slapping them down and shaming them anymore?  Can’t we fight back on the channels they chose to share their abusive thoughts through and not drag it onto the Olympic stage?

I don’t like racist comments anywhere – whether on twitter, Facebook or in the real world.  They are non-productive and make me mad as hell.  Every individual should be accountable and forced to live with the consequences of their behavior in their life and within their life.  We don’t need the IOC telling us what’s acceptable or not.  By doing so, the IOC is basically saying that, “we don’t trust these athletes to have good judgement and we have to police this because society cannot manage this problem without us.”  In fact the message in a larger sense becomes “the human race needs policing because we forgot how to behave.”

Now we’ve had a couple of bad judgements already from Greece and Switzerland – a mere two individuals out of thousands who decided their hateful thoughts deserved to be shared online.  But I say throw them in the ring let them appear before the court of worldwide human judgement.  Allow them on the field so they can feel the burn of the disapproving eyes of the world on them.  Let them compete against those they ridiculed and insulted.  We’ll see who fares better, who has the support of the world, and who comes out on top (regardless of medal placement).  I would hope that these two athletes feel the error of their ways every waking moment of their lives.  Not because they were expelled from the Olympics, but because people who matter to them remind them every day by example that racism and hatred are not acceptable.

In its earliest form, organized sport was used as a venue for judgement.  A place where slaves could win freedom, and the condemned could win life.  Right or wrong, sport provided the ultimate conflict resolution stage.  As civilizations evolved, sport rose above judgement and provided a playing field where athletes were held to the highest standards of performance and accountability – human accountability.  So should we all be.  Let the games begin.

No More Blame.

I recently ended an important relationship. Important in my mind I suppose. We had a good thing for a few years although I know it was not perfect. I wasn’t aiming for perfect – in my defense. I found out he had cheated on me during our time together, both emotionally and physically. I even met the woman he cheated on me with although she and I both think there are plenty of others. Thank God my friends were with me because the moment of enlightenment was truly better than television and I would not have believed it to be true if it were not seen through their eyes as well as mine.

Interestingly enough, it was HE who inadvertently threw us together one night about a month or so ago…something deep down in him probably wanted us to both find out. At the time, I could only feel sadness. Not the anger I had imagined people who were cheated on felt. I hear the country western songs and even know some of the lyrics. I read poetry. I get that I was supposed to feel rage in my heart and all I felt was sadness and regret.

Since the not-so-chance meeting, I found ways to place blame on her, him and even myself (should have traveled less and spent more time with him, etc.). When the goal is to blame, there are always countless options and people to choose from. The problem is, blaming was not helping me move on and it certainly did not make me feel any better about the situation. I needed to be o.k. with the fact that for the first time in my life, I was cheatable (my new word) – deserving or not. I was the scorned woman who would have to learn to trust again, hoping that too many years would not pass me by in the process because there’s just not that much time left to live.

Part of the reason I started this blog was because something has changed in me since my epiphany in June. One night as I gave serious thought to the rest of my life, I decided I was going to try to do everything in my life slightly different. My strategy is change for the sake of change. All of the angst, the uneasy feelings, the unfamiliar, the adrenaline and risk… it was all part of the deal that I made with myself and the universe.

It’s not the other woman’s fault he cheated. In her mind’s eye, I’m the cheater because she had not known he and I were together. Ultimately I placed my faith in him that he would be loyal in the relationship and he decided – for whatever reason – to not be what I had hoped for. I chose to be loyal. So did she.

Blame ruins lives. It takes away possibilities and stunts potential. It creates unfulfilled people who never meet expectations. In the extreme, it germinates conflicts and wars. It fuels genocides and atrocities. It doesn’t solve, fix, repair, create, make whole – in fact, nothing good comes from blame. It is as toxic as hate and ignorance. In my own incredibly insignificant way, I truly understand now.

I’m not a victim and neither is the woman he cheated on me with – I refuse to refer to her as “the other woman” because she’s simply “a woman”. We can live our lives knowing we were both true to who we are and hopefully he can also do the same. I am not interested in placing blame and spending my precious energy and time on finding out the details of the indiscretion. I have far better things to do with my life and the time I have left on this earth. So does she.

Fourth of July Lessons

Unexpectedly spent a seriously hot Fourth of July in St. Peters, Missouri…interesting lessons to be learned every day in every way in life.  Driving around neighborhoods to watch the amazing and often illegal fireworks – literally dozens of groups in a 5-mile area, gathering in their best red, white and blue – hooting and hollering with every blast. Houses with massive flags hanging from them and patriotic draping around windows.  Mid-westerners are serious about the Fourth of July.

On the small street where my brother and his family live, the fireworks show was equal to those displayed on San Diego Bay (well, not this year…), but normally.  No exaggeration.  These were every bit the close proximity pyrotechnics you see at stadium concerts and major professional shows – in the middle of a residential street for Christ’s sake.  Illegal, yes.  Dangerous, probably.  Entertaining, hell YES!

As we took to the car to catch the area displays, we opened the sun roof so the explosions of colors dripped down on us as we sat parked awkwardly in the middle of streets to catch the best views.  Families and friends gathering for the day, enjoying their common sense of country and pride. I felt as if I was wrapped in a soft red, white and blue blanket that made me instantly related to each and every person that I saw.  Country goes as deep as blood I believe.  It’s where you or your parents (or theirs) were born. It’s where your loved ones have died.  It’s where we choose to spend our time, visit or adopt.  Doesn’t matter where we originally came from, or where we are going to be eventually.  We are all here now.

Things became quiet around 9:30 or so, and we started up the car to drive home.  Passing one small court that was entirely dark, the world was illuminated by a group of five or six small children wearing red, white and blue t-shirts with a few adults.  The children were small, maybe six or eight years of age.  Smiling, giggling and jumping for joy. In their hands, sparklers that lit up their faces and showed their sun-kissed cheeks.  It was a scene out of Life Magazine, but live.  Brought me back to my childhood and lighting sparklers in the backyard with Mom and Dad.  Dad always had a hose ready, and we thought the pin wheel firework was the biggest thing we’d ever see in life.  Funny how everything is a big deal when you are a child.

The fireworks are gone. The feelings are not.