Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The "Right" Thing to Do

I was faced with an interesting moral dilemma over the weekend, that I can honestly say would not have been dilemma at all five or six years ago. But where I am in my life right now, I found myself questioning things that, up until this point, I considered to be givens in a functioning society.

So I was driving home in a nighttime snowstorm - one of those storms that comes up very quickly, drops mountains of snow, sleet, and ice upon whatever happens to be in its path, and generally causes severe havoc on the roads because everyone was unprepared for its rapid onset and unexpected intensity. Now, as I believe I have mentioned here before, I don't like driving even when the sun is out, the birds are singing, and I know where I'm going. In this case, not only was the storm blinding and the roads instantly icy, I was driving in a place where I had never been before and had no idea of any way to get home other than where the GPS was taking me.

But I must say, even in my state of fear and fishtailing, I was doing a pretty good job of not panicking. Then, as I eased my way around a rotary (traffic circle), I felt the car begin to slide out of control. I stepped on the brake, kept sliding...and although I tried my best to swerve out of the way, I ended up hitting a car that was parked in front of some shops inside the rotary.

ARGH! (although that's not the choice word that actually came out of my mouth) I got the car back under control, got out of the rotary, and saw the sign for the highway up ahead.

I almost kept going. I almost skidded and slid my way up to the onramp toward the beacon lights on the highway that would lead me safely home. There had been no one around to see anything, the owner of the car would never know who did it or how it happened, and this was one of those situations where although I made an unavoidable mistake, I could get away with it scot-free and no one would ever be the wiser.

I'm ashamed to say that I actually considered doing just that. But ultimately, my conscience caught up with me and I just couldn't. So I bypassed my exit sign, painstakingly made my way back around to where I had been, parked on the side of the road, and left my name, phone number, and an apology on a piece of paper in the car's windshield wiper. (There was so much snow coming down that I thought (hoped?) that maybe it would end up being soaked through and ultimately unreadable but alas, I got a call from their insurance company the next day asking me about what happened and pointedly letting me know just how much "at fault" I was for the incident.)

The dent on their car was very minor. There was no damage at all to my car since I was going so slowly. The insurance agent told me time and again, "You did the RIGHT thing." My husband told me over and over again, "You did the RIGHT thing." I told myself repeatedly, "You did the RIGHT thing." But then I had to ask myself:

"Did I?"

In many ways, yes, I did. In the "what goes around comes around" category of karmic law, I absolutely did the right thing. In the category of "what would I want someone to do for me in this situation?" I absolutely did the right thing. I believe that most people who believe in the concepts of right and wrong would agree that I absolutely did the right thing. But how many of those people would have stopped? Honestly? Fewer than most, I think.

There were no witnesses. Not another soul was walking by or driving by or looking out of a store window. No one was injured, the car was still drivable, in fact, if I had a dent as small as that one on my own car I probably wouldn't even bother to get it fixed. One could argue that the "right" thing to do in this situation was to get myself home as quickly and safely as possible to avoid a worse accident (of which I passed several on my way home). So how do we define what's right and what's wrong in a situation where it's up to only us?

As I said, a few years ago it never would have occurred to me to NOT stop. I would have known in my heart and in my bones that this is what a person does in this kind of situation. No question, no hesitation. But over the course of my lifetime I have been lied to by friends, abandoned by people who claimed to love me, betrayed by people who swore they would never do such a thing, and sabotaged by co-workers claiming to be on the same team. Time and again I have seen people do only what's right for them, without the slightest regard for what someone else might need or want in a situation, and observe those people leading (what seem to be) very happy and fulfilling lives. I have seen self-centered people get exactly what they want, often at the expense and/or humiliation of others, and it doesn't seem to bother them at all. I know people who go through life only thinking "What's in it for me?" and would have driven on home that night without a thought or care for the person who owned the other car. It wouldn't have occurred to them to stop, even for a moment, or if it had, they would have justified not stopping in the blink of an eye and moved on. For them, the right thing to do, always, is look out for #1 and don't ever put yourself in a position where you could be blamed or have to take responsibility for something unpleasant. I hate to say it, but in that moment of writing down my name and number, I envied those people and their decision-making guidelines more than just a little.

But then I thought, what kind of world would we live in where everyone behaved like those people? Would there be charities to help out people in the midst of a hard time? Would there be communities to rally around others in the wake of a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy a few weeks ago? Would there even be concepts like compromise, give-and-take, or "do unto others" in our society? It seems to me like while we are certainly taught when we're young about big things being right or wrong (killing, stealing, bullying), we're all born with a conscience to help us out in those situations that can have gray areas.

(And if someone is about to argue about how there are no gray areas when it comes to right and wrong, I would direct them to the news footage of the past few months leading up to our most recent Presidential election. There were sure a lot of people who were absolutely, positively, unequivocally certain that they were right about certain things, and that certain other people and issues were equally as fundamentally wrong.)

So, with all that we've been taught, with all that we've learned, and in the words of Jiminy Cricket, letting our conscience be our guide, how do we know in any given situation what is the right thing to do?


We don't. Every situation is different, every person is different, and every person has had a different life experience. Everyone has different opinions on what is right and wrong, and everyone has reasons and justifications for the decisions they make and the actions they do based on them. But I only have control over one of those people.


I'm the one who looks at my face in the mirror every morning and gets to decide if I like what I see. I'm the one who has to be comfortable going to sleep every night with the choices I have made during the day. I'm the one who has to determine what is right or wrong for ME, in my life, regardless of what other people might say or opine, or do. And the truth is, it doesn't matter if other people are self-centered or selfish or don't care about others. Because they are the ones who have to look themselves in the mirror every day and answer to their conscience, which I have to believe is speaking to them, if ever so faintly.

So do I believe that I did the right thing? Yes. Am I bothered by the fact that I actually questioned that fundamental belief that I've had as long as I can remember? You bet. But it reminded me that no matter what anyone else says or does, I have to live by my own moral code, and that I also have the opportunity and responsibility to teach that code to my children. And if that means stopping in a horrible snowstorm to do something that is pretty much guaranteed to cause me aggravation, stress, and probably a pile of money, I have to do it anyway.


Because it's the right thing to do.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Citius, Altius, Fortius

I just watched the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony and Parade of Nations. It was a thrilling experience as always (I am a huge Olympic fan) but this time as I watched the athletes enter the stadium I was struck by one particular thing:

How alike they all looked. No matter the country, no matter the dress, no matter the color of his or her skin, every single athlete was overwhelmed with joy to be there. Their excitement was palpable, even through a tv screen hours later and thousands of miles away. And not only were the emotions the same with each group, but so were the faces and bodies. The women looked like the girls I see at the library and band practice. The men looked like the guys I see at the gym and the dog park. If an athlete from Finland missed her entrance and came walking in with the team from Tajikistan, no one would have known the difference. A Syrian could have been amidst the Marshall Islands delegates and we'd never have been the wiser. And if any of the athletes from the entire world jumped in and walked with USA, they would have fit right in.

Even more amazing was to see athletes from Israel, Egypt, and Palestine sharing the same space. Iraq walking in directly behind Iran. North and South Korea putting aside their shared hatred because there's simply no place for it here. It almost seems like the Olympics are a pause button for the world. It's like everyone says, "Yes, we have our differences, but for two weeks we're going to put them aside and instead enjoy each other and view each other on a literally even playing field." Makes you wonder why we can't just do this all the time.

One more thing. We all hear things like, "We're more alike than we are different." Which can sound like a phrase from a didactic first grade lesson plan. But when you look at the Parade of Nations it is shockingly inescapable. People are people. We all have two eyes, we all have two arms and two legs, and we all breathe, speak, and move with the same mechanical parts. Those are obvious similarities. But here's what people tend to forget:

For every single person on the planet - when they get cut, they bleed. (and the blood is always the same color by the way)

No exceptions.

For every single person on the planet - when they see or hear something funny, they smile.

It's involuntary.

For every single person on the planet - when they experience heartbreaking loss or pain, they feel it deeply and are changed as a result.

It's part of what being human is.

We seem to forget that every single one of us was once a helpless baby who depended on other people for survival. We still depend on one another on a daily basis to help us survive, and while no one else is ultimately responsible for our own choices or how we feel about them, it is impossible to survive on this Earth completely and utterly alone.

So why do so many of us hate each other? Why do so many people expend a tremendous amount of energy vilifying and discouraging others? Why is it only during the Olympics and the occasional holiday season that that whole "good will toward men" concept seems to be apparent?

The Olympic motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius - Faster, Higher, Stronger" is supposed to help the athletes achieve their dreams of superior excellence in their sports and continually push themselves further in their training. What if we applied that motto to the way we look at the world?

Could we trust our fellow human beings faster - not assume that they are out to get us but realize that on the most basic, fundamental level, they feel the same ways we do?

Could we set our mindsets higher - look for the good in others, remembering our similarities before focusing on our differences?

Could we as a race be stronger- lifting each other up and supporting one another, despite prejudices we might have been taught that we now know are wrong?

Could we strive for compassion, acceptance, consideration, and benevolence toward each other? Could we train our minds as we train our muscles to move and think in different ways?

Because there's something else that's true for every single person on the planet.

Each one of us is going to die.

No exceptions.

Do we want to make our short time here on Earth filled with seeking out our differences and spreading disapproval and animosity around? Or can we go about our lives realizing the fact that everyone is trying their best to find happiness and fulfillment and sometimes need us to help them along?

Most of us will never vault over a 17 foot high bar using a pole for leverage. Most of us will never stick a dismount or stand on a medal platform. But we can take a lesson from the athletes and push ourselves to act faster, higher, and stronger in our own lives, in pursuing our own goals, and in the ways we treat each other.

We're all walkers in the Parade of Nations. Our flags may look different, but we're all so happy to be here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Scary Stuff

I just saw some disturbing video - 2 different pastors talking to their congregations about the merits of the American government rounding up all homosexuals and killing them, or putting them all together inside an electrified fence so that they can just die out on their own.

Remind anyone of anything? Say, Europe in the early 1940's?

While it literally turns my stomach to hear these kinds of "solutions" being spouted by people who claim to do it in God's name, and in America no less, sadly it doesn't surprise me.

What does surprise me is the need for some human beings to condemn other human beings. To vilify them, to blame them for everything that is wrong with the world, and to think that the best way to "deal with their kind" is to wipe them out.

These are men of the cloth people. Supposedly called to help make the world a better place. This is also America, where people are supposed to be able to live freely and with certain unalienable rights. (Those would be life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.)


So we can all agree that this kind of Nazi-inspired prejudice is abominable and unconscionable. (Well, except for the congregations that gave their leaders standing ovations.) But here's what I want to know:

Why the antipathy toward this minority? Did a bunch of homosexuals come and carry off their children? Did some homosexual people take their jobs away, leaving them destitute on the street? Are homosexual people harming them on a daily basis, or even affecting their lives in any way at all?

No to all of the above.

"But it's wrong," they'll say. According to whom, I would ask? "The Bible," they respond. Okay, so whoever does something that's considered wrong in the bible should be killed or exiled to die out.

Let's see how that would work out. The bible clearly states "Do Not Steal." So that must mean that the fourteen-year-old who makes a bad decision and shoplifts a pack of gum should immediately be put to death.

"No, no, that's different," they'll say. "That was just one mistake, the kid was young, it's not really 'wrong.'"

Well the bible also states that no one shall covet his neighbor's goods. So I guess that means that the guy who looks longingly over the fence at his buddy's new lawn mower, or bicycle, or television should be removed from his house and executed, the sooner the better.

"No, no, that's different," they'll say. "That's a natural reaction to things. It's technically wrong, yeah, but it's no big deal.Everyone does that."

So it looks like the concept of "wrong according to the bible" varies from situation to situation. To the vilifiers, homosexuality is somehow "more wrong" and therefore punishable by death.

Really? In America? From a religious pulpit?

It is worth noting that both of the pastors on these videos are considerably overweight. They clearly do not exercise on regular basis and do not practice healthy portion control. There's that bible verse from Corinthians that tells us to consider our bodies as temples of the Lord to which we should not add contaminants. So that means that anyone who puts excess sugar, salt, fat, etc. into this temple is directly disobeying God's commandments. They are doing something absolutely, fundamentally, biblically wrong. I wonder how these guys would fare being confined by an electric fence because they are fat? (and are choosing every day to remain so)

Lastly, I believe the word "love" is mentioned 697 times in the bible, and the phrase, "love one another," is mentioned 11 times specifically in the New Testament. Interestingly, it's not "love one another as long as they agree with you all the time," nor is it, "love one another as long as they believe in the same tenets and way of life that you do," nor is it "love one another based on how you are feeling on any given day." It's simply, love one another.

Love one another.

Around the world, all religions are based on the concepts of love, tolerance, compassion, and acceptance. Also on the "what goes around comes around" theory. If that theory is correct, these pastors had better watch their backs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cilantro vs. Cable Television

With a title like that how could you not read further?!

The definition of hate: to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest.

I've hated many things in my life from time to time. Bosses, certain situations I've found myself in, the most annoying noise on the planet that a teacher used to make "sucking on her teeth," and various other things, like most people do over the course of a few decades. But I can honestly say that the only thing I really hate right now is cilantro.

Hate it. Destest it. Loathe it. Abhor it. I know that some people love its fresh, vibrant, better-than-parsley taste, but for me, I think I'd rather chew on some tin foil. I hate it so much that if I were dining with the President at the White House, and cilantro was in one of the dishes, I would spit it out (discreetly of course) and politely refrain from eating the rest of what I'm sure would be a gourmet meal prepared by an exceptional chef.

Okay, you get the picture. I am repulsed by this particular seasoning that, to me, tastes like the bottom of a garbage can. However, just because I feel such an aversion to this particular thing, you don't see me parading around downtown Boulder holding signs stating, "I hate cilantro!" Or "Cilantro is the herb of the devil!" You also don't see me holding disruptive protests outside restaurants that serve it on some of their menu items. Nor do I go around to gardens ripping up the plants or setting fire to the packets of cilantro seeds at Home Depot.

Why? Because these acts are stupid and ridiculous. If I don't like cilantro, the solution is very simple: I don't eat it.

The same goes for television shows (and books, and movies, etc.) that people have a particular aversion toward. My advice to them is just as simple: Don't watch it.

It amazes me that people take so much time to vilify and denounce things on televsion that they have a choice to not watch. Most people now have more than 500 channels to choose from - surely there's something else available that will fit their fancy.

Now, the reality is, there is indeed a lot of drek on TV these days. For the hundreds of shows broadcast every day, my family and I watch very few of them. And amazingly, no one is forcing us to watch the other ones that we have no interest in or that may upset or offend us. How grateful we are that we live in a country where the government doesn't decide what we are allowed to watch and when.

Yet people feel the need to make their opinions known (see last post) time and again, about what offends them and what should be taken off of the airwaves. Believe me, I think that about 75% of what is currently on television shouldn't be watched by anyone. But it's not my choice as to what people watch, any more than it's someone else's to tell me what to watch. People think that they are protecting the greater good by protesting shows or banning certain movies from the public. I disagree. It's just another example of how certain highly opinionated people think that they are unequivocally right, that everyone else is wrong, and that their way is the only way.

Very annoying, judgemental, and completely unnecessary.

Now it turns out, that some people are genetically predisposed to have an aversion to cilantro. There have been studies published recently explaining why some people hate it to the point of aversion. In fact, the title of one of the articles about this is titled, "Cilantro Haters - It's Not Your Fault."

However, no one is genetically predisposed to hate and be prejudiced against other people. Prejudice and judgmental attitudes are all learned behavior. No one comes out of the womb hating a particular race of people or having strong opinions against a world religion. Everything that is put into our brains comes from somewhere else, which often, unfortunately, can be detrimental to our fellow men and women.

So, cilantro? You can keep it. Your single-minded, short-sighted, overly judgmental opinions? You can keep those too.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

Do you know how I spent this Mother's Day? At a luxurious brunch in downtown Denver? Nope. Enjoying a delicious breakfast in bed surrounded by the Sunday paper? Uh uh. Being showered with cards and gifts and flowers and chocolates? Not exactly.

Instead I was sitting in 40-degree, slightly rainy, very windy weather at my son's baseball tournament. It was cold, uncomfortable, and rather early in the morning to boot. Everyone around me was complaining: "I'm so cold!" "I can't believe this weather!" "Do you believe this is how we have to spend Mother's Day?" etc. etc. It was, quite simply, no fun.But as I sat there listening to these moms complain, a thought came over me that instantly made me feel much warmer inside:

There's nowhere else I'd rather be.

I thought about the friends we'd had who had suffered through years of infertility treatments, who would have given anything to be sitting exactly where I was sitting right now. I thought about the parents we know with special needs children, who will never be able to play baseball, nor lead what are considered to be "normal" lives. I thought about the empty-nester who had said to me recently, "I wish I hadn't stressed so much when my kids were young. I wish I had enjoyed it more. Now they are gone and I can't get that time back." And I thought about the friends who lost their parents at early ages, who never got to experience the joy and pride of having a parent cheer for them at various events and activities.

I thought about all of this as I pulled my blanket a little tighter around me and smiled quietly to myself. Nothing like feeling grateful instead of annoyed and frustrated.

The game continued, and my son, who was pitching, had a particularly good inning. He threw many strikes, and then finished it out with double play as he caught a line drive and then threw the base runner out at first. As he turned to leave the mound, he looked up into the stands. He found me, (who was cheering wildly) and smiled the biggest, widest, happiest grin - it was so bright it lit up the field. It was a smile meant just for me. I smiled back, just as largely, and gave him a thumbs up as his team surrounded him, slapping him on the back as they ran together toward the dugout.

There's nowhere else I'd rather be.

Happy Mother's Day indeed.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dusting the Pipes Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1, please do, otherwise this might not make much sense.

So, I wanted to share my thoughts on some of the other jaw-dropping rules and conditions of the house with the cleanest pipes on the planet.

Rule about guests: Her 13-year-old daughter is not allowed to have more than one friend over at a time. Why? Because the one time she did have a few friends over, the mom went ballistic because when they left the sofa cushions were all out of place and there was some popcorn or something on the floor. She said it took her 2 1/2 hours to clean up after the 2 hour get together, so, and I quote, "Never again!" She never has grown-ups over either. Her book club understands that her house isn't in the rotation, and anyone who might possibly have pet hair on them is not allowed to sit on any furniture.

I think I'd last in this house about forty seconds.

Rule about the closets: Absolutely no one is allowed to touch anything except for her. Of course they were organized like a Hoarders show "After" reveal, and I'll be honest; I really wanted to surreptitiously reach up and knock a shoe or two out of alignment just to see what would happen. (I didn't.)

Rule about the gas fireplace: It is never to be turned on because it would only have to be cleaned later.

The list goes on and on and on. All of the stringent regulations to make sure that no possible extra cleaning would have to take place. Of course I was thinking to myself, "You're going to be cleaning compulsively anyway so what difference does it make?" but that wouldn't make any sense to her. What doesn't make sense to me is why having an immaculately pristine house is more important than sharing fun and happy times in it.

Anyway, by that time on the tour, all of that stuff wasn't really much of a surprise. However, one of the last things she said really struck me:

I had noticed that the main floor of the house, containing the living room, dining room, and kitchen, while quite tastefully decorated, was also very dark overall. I didn't mention it, but at the very end, she pointed to the heavy velvet curtains that covered the floor-to-ceiling windows that made up one wall. Proudly she said, "I've never opened those curtains." So I was like "Never?" There was no horrible view out there, it faced the side yard of the neighbor's house. "Never," she said, "And I never will." "Um...why?" I asked tentatively. She answered very matter-of-factly, "Because if I open the curtains the sun could fade the back of the couch, and if I ever want to move this couch downstairs it won't be up against a wall and people could walk around it and see the faded part."

I swear my brain stopped working for a moment. I had to take several seconds to process what she had just said. Finally I nodded my head and said something like, "Oh," and quickly got my filthy-hadn't-showered-yet-probably-pet-hair-ridden self out of there! (Whew!)

On the way home, I realized that this last rationale of hers, is the perfect example of not doing something because we are afraid of what MIGHT happen. Even if that thing is beneficial or good or joyful, we talk ourselves out of it with scenarios that haven't even happened yet; and may never happen at all. We've had our hearts broken so we don't reach out to befriend others to make sure we're not hurt again. We really want to leave unfulfilling jobs and pursue our passions in life, but we don't because we might not end up being successful, (or sucessful enough by someone else's standards). We tamp down our dreams, convincing ourselves that it's better if we don't try at all, because then nothing bad can happen and therefore we won't be disappointed. It's so much easier to stay in the dark, protecting ourselves from what might happen. What could happen. What possibly, conceivably, maybe, by some chance will happen.

Well guess what? Whether we open the curtains or not, hearts get broken sometimes. But they heal and we move on. No matter how much we try to close ourselves off from them, disappointments happen. So we pick ourselves up and try again. Dreams often don't come true. So we figure out another way or come up with a new dream.

To plan every which way for every eventuality leaves us paralyzed. We remain stuck in a mire of fear, which is oddly comforting because it feels safe. But the irony of all of this is, things rarely happen the way we plan for them anyway. Life isn't about preventing possible outcomes, it's for taking them as they come out.

Simply put, life is for the living. It's our choice to keep ourselves cowering in a cave or to throw open the curtains and let the glorious sun shine in. While it may fade a couch, it can never fade our souls.

By the way, if you're ever concerned that the sun will fade the back of the couch, just throw a blanket over it for goodness' sake! Or not care. Both end up the same anyway.

Dusting the Pipes Part 1

I recently met a woman who dusts her pipes.

Seriously. Every two weeks she goes into her furnace room, climbs up on a ladder, and wipes down all of the heating and water pipes as well as the top of the hot water heater. She told me that she just can't stand dust.


Now I can honestly say that in all of my years of living it has never, ever, crossed my mind to dust my pipes. I mean, aside from the whole "life is too short to do things like that" thing, it's just not something that has ever occurred to me, even when thoroughly cleaning a house to sell it. As far as I know, it hasn't occurred to anyone else either. Until I met this woman.

Needless to say, the rest of her house was immaculate, to the point of it looking like a model home that no human beings actually occupied. She had lived there with her 13-year-old daughter for almost a year and as far as I could tell, no one had ever walked on the living room carpet. She also told me that things like shoes, glitter, spiral-bound notebooks, and food anywhere besides on a plate on the table were forbidden in her house.


Obviously this woman suffers from OCD, which I know is an illness that is extremely difficult to overcome. Having been divorced twice I believe she needs to feel in complete control of her life and incessantly cleaning is one way to do that. I'm not judging, nor am I condemning her. I think she needs some serious help dealing with this affliction, especially since it is makes itself present in every area of her life. More on that in Part 2.

For now, back to the pipes. So she is spending enormous amounts of time, energy, and effort to clean her pipes every two weeks. Time, energy, and effort on something that doesn't matter. At all. For any reason. So that got me thinking...even though I would never consider cleaning my pipes, what do I expend lots of time, energy, and effort on that really doesn't matter? Hmmm... How about all of the years' worth of hours I have spent worrying and fretting about the number on the scale and how it's higher than the magazine articles tell me it should be. Or the colleague I knew who spends two and a half hours in front of the mirror doing her hair and makeup just to run to the store to get some milk. Or the friend I had who was constantly redecorating her house because it was never quite right. (once she spent 3 months searching for the perfect kitchen drawer pulls, only to change them a few weeks later)

We might as well be dusting our pipes. We're spending inordinate amounts of our short time on this Earth on things that just don't matter.

So then that got me thinking, what could Ms. Pipe Cleaner be spending her time on instead of meticulously and obsessively cleaning things that don't actually need to be cleaned? Altruistic things like serving food at a soup kitchen or knitting hats for the homeless? Sure. But how about doing things that are enjoyable and pleasant and that make life worth living? Like reading a great book, or tending a garden, or going ice-skating with her daughter. Unfortunately, she can't really enjoy any of these things because she knows that the pipes are collecting more and more dust by the minute. The same way that I can't fully enjoy myself at the beach or the pool if my swimsuit is a size or two larger than I think it should be. My friend could never relax and enjoy her home because she was always focusing on the next thing that was wrong with it. We spend more time obsessed with things that don't matter than we do on experiencing all of the beautiful and wonderful things the world has to offer.

So while literally dusting the furnace room pipes seems absurd, we all have our own proverbial pipes that we polish on a daily basis. We need to realize that they don't matter, and that once and for all, we can leave them alone.

They are clean enough.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tebow Time

Now that we live just outside of Denver, all of the hoopla surrounding Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is front and center in our lives at the moment. We have found ourselves getting caught up in the last-minute, miraculous come-from-behind wins, and in spite of us being rabid Patriots fans, we will happily cheer for and celebrate with the Broncos when they win...as long as they aren't facing the Pats.

(As an aside, tonight is the big AFC Divisional round game Broncos vs. Pats, and so lest anyone wonder where our loyalties lie, tonight there will be no Tim, only Tom.)

But back to Tim for the moment. We have seen the strong division in opinions among the people in America with regard to him and his open display of prayer on the field. Some people love him for his overt Christian views and proclamations, some hate him for bringing his zealous religious views into football, and some even want him hurt or dead for so openly praising the god he believes in. It has been very interesting to witness this heated battle in the newspapers, on television, and all over Twitter and Facebook. But what I want to ask all of these incredibly vocal people is:

Why do you care?

Isn't your life fulfilling enough that you don't feel the need to spend your time hurling vitriol at people, making sure that your 100% correct opinion is known to everyone, and feeling that what a 24-year-old football player in Denver says in an interview is aimed specifically at you to be morally offensive?

First of all, it's a GAME people. Yes, football is extremely important to the American culture. And I realize that in today's society, successful sports players are often held up as examples of role models for young people because of their commitment, hard work, and camaraderie with their team. But we need to remember that these men and women aren't lawmakers, nor do they hold any position of power that can directly affect anyone's current way of life. They are not political dictators or government officials, or even personal advisors to any of us, so what they have to say has absolutely nothing to do with our daily lives or our collective well-being.

Secondly, it's not like someone outwardly proclaiming their religious beliefs is new to the world of sports. Does anyone remember Sammy Sosa crossing himself repeatedly every time he came up to bat? There were no public rants about how what he was doing was offensive to America's very makeup. Or how about Kurt Warner cutting interviews short to kneel down on the field with players from both teams for a post-game prayer? People just seemed to be very "live and let live" about that. And good old Sandy Koufax, who chose not to pitch in game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it was Yom Kippur. Sure, people weren't happy about it, but I doubt he received death threats.

Was the world more forgiving back then? Hard to say. What is true is that back then there were no 24-hour news networks constantly blasting the current controversies onto our many televisions in our living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. There were no social networking sites where people could verbally vomit every thought and opinion they've ever had just to make sure their opinion was out there for any and all to see. There also seemed to be an overall respect for one another (civil rights notwithstanding unfortunately) at least in public, if not in private. But now it seems like anyone in the public eye is up for grabs, and the national pastime is to build people up only to publicly tear them down shortly afterwards. Sad, mean, bitter, but true.

So what do I think of the current Tebow controversy? As a Jew who has experienced more than her fair share of anti-semitism, and countless people telling me that I'm unworthy, subpar, and wrong for observing the faith I was raised in, I can see where people could be scared by intense convictions and vocal support of one religion over another. As someone who has had people try to convert me and convince me that hell is the only place for unenlightened, stupid, non-believing people like me, I can understand why any mention of religion in a non-religious setting could make people anxious and wary. But even though I can understand where people could be coming from in this instance, I don't agree with their intent to vehemently denounce someone who is merely stating his opinion seemingly without an ulterior motive.

In my opinion, when Tim Tebow thanks "Jesus his Lord and Savior" in an interview, it's no different from an Oscar winner saying, "I'd like to thank my parents for all of their help and support." In both cases they are thanking what they believed helped them in that situation. Wouldn't it be worse if people didn't thank anyone at all, but instead believed that all of their success came from how inherently awesome they were themselves? And above all, who cares who people thank for what? Can you imagine a CEO accepting an award and thanking both his wife and his mistress for their support? Weird and uncomfortable? Sure. Any of my business? NO!

And let's not forget, all of these sports figures that we lift up to be deities themselves, are just people who are going about living their lives day to day just like us. They raise families, they have hobbies, they take out the trash, and some of them also practice religion. Their sport is a big part of their lives, but it's not the only thing in their lives. Everything in all of our lives is intertwined, and to tell someone that they have to put one part of their life into a box and keep it separate from the other parts is ludicrous. Should a working mom forget that she has children while she's at the office? Should a doctor forget about his/her patients when they are not right in front of him/her? Should Sandy Koufax forget that it's Yom Kippur when it's also the first game of the World Series?

For me, I can watch a football game, enjoy all of the excitement, listen with half an ear to the post-game interviews, and then go on with my happy, busy, fulfilling life. It doesn't affect me one way or another because I have plenty of other things going on that require my attention that actually have an effect on my life. I don't have the time or inclination to spout on about what I think about things (except of course in this blog - the irony is not lost on me there) nor do I feel the need to convince everyone else to agree with me because I feel that I am absolutely, unequivocally, and exclusively right. We we all have our differing opinions and we all have different issues and ways of thinking that we bring to every conversation and every situation. It's the compassion toward others' thinking that promotes peace and grace in our lives, and makes the world a pleasant place to be in our short time here.

Speaking of, I have things to do, so I will wrap up by saying: Stop reading someone else's opinion - go get a life!! ;)