“All that tread, the globe are but a handful to the tribes, that slumber in its bosom.”
William Cullen Bryant
Where do people draw the line? What is the boundary for which people exist? Earlier this week, I confided in an old student and now friend that I had given up on my lifelong love of the Dallas Cowboys. His shock, being a Cowboys fan also, was apparent and he demanded to know why.
I spelled it out for him:
- I don’t like the ownership, never really have.
- I don’t like the ownership’s position on the anthem protests, their support of the current administration, and the way they often take sides against the other owners.
- I’m not a fan of the behavior of some of the key players, a trend that has been growing in me as I have gotten older and become less tolerant of behavior that is either illegal or lacks basic moral respect.
My friend responded by saying, “But Jerry is such a good businessman.”
Right there, I checked out because I could see where this conversation was going. My friend is a very good businessman. He put it out there that his loyalty to the Cowboys was about the status and power of the Cowboys more than it was about anything else. I was disappointed in my friend at first, but then I realized he probably felt the same about me and my “liberal views” about the relationship of sports to social and moral issues.
As I reflected more about the conversation, I got a little more bothered at the theme we had been discussing. We are too tribal, me in my disdain for the Cowboys and the sociopolitical reasons for my abandonment of a lifelong loyal follower and he with his blinded business is king viewpoint. We exist in worlds where all we want to do is surround ourselves with people who think they same as us, who worship the same as us, who vote the same as us, and who never question the fundamental ways that we see the world.
I wish that people were not so quick to blame the ills of society on those who do not think the way they do. My friend is my friend, we just don’t think about the Dallas Cowboys the same way anymore. He can like them for a completely different reason than I ever did, and I can listen to his views about the ways in which business “trumps” moral obligations without finding him to be an enemy or worthy of deportation.
The way that our societies are shrinking is scary. The goal of a great society is fading under the bright lights of blame, righteousness, power monguering, and a refusal to think about the possibilities of limited thinking. Sports are only one way that tribalism is taking away our acceptance of everyone and everything, yet it is sports that preaches the benefits of participation as a teacher of lifelessons to promote noble goals of sportsmanship, diversity, and hardwork.
It’s too bad that so much of that is lost in the excusal of bad behavior, false prophet patriotism, and the general disregard for goodness that fanaticism is promoting across sports, politics, and religion.