A better way

This recent weekend, watching professional football games provided me a peek at my inner feelings about the “other.” Made me uncomfortable. Some of my favorite teams won; others lost. I expected this. No big deal. I didn’t lose any sleep over it, but I confess to feeling some disappointment.

That’s not important, but my perceptions of the opposing teams trouble me. Why do I consider them — their players, coaches, and especially their fans, more than simply opponents.  Enemies. I’m talking about sports teams, mind you.

Do I hate them? Of course not, yet I find myself not wanting to associate with the likes of them. I don’t like them.

Harvey Cox taught me something about this. About 40 years ago, Cox, the respected theologian, addressed a conference of clergy in Fort Lauderdale, which I covered as a reporter. We have become a society of competitors, Cox told the group. We insist on declaring winners and losers, and separating them. We praise and honor the winners and demean the losers. Shouldn’t we simply cooperate instead? He asked. Treat everyone as equally worthy?

Equally worthy.

Cox’s point has stayed with me since. The way we regard others, whether fans of sports teams, or those whose whose language, culture, political preferences are the opposite of our own, is crucial. Why do we distrust, shun, even hate them?

There is a better way. Let’s be honest with ourselves. These people whom we find different are more like us than they differ from us. They love their children, just like us. How shall we regard them? Interact with them?

Cox was right. There is a better way, and we know what it is. I believe this. I know it.

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