Saturday, July 10, 2010

We are the lucky ones, not the better ones

This is a church. Here is a sermon. Listen up and get rid of the vermin.

The game is played using a small, white sphere stitched in red by the hands of the very poor. They work long, hot hours for little pay, pumping out 2.4 million baseballs a year to be shipped to a place called the United States of America.

Once upon a time, this place called America was a land of dreams, a beacon of hope, a place of magic where you could come to escape persecution and oppression from any part of the world, where one could break free from the chains of poverty and make a decent life for his family.

Today it seems like a mythical land.

Yet the myth persists in the minds of so many, especially at this time of year when people wave their flags and proclaim their pride to be something most of them had no choice in being. Coincidence of birth.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Each of those baseballs is only used for a few minutes until it is battered by men making millions of dollars to play a child's game. The workers in Costa Rica make about $2750 in a year. That's about $50-$60 a week, much more than the $15-$20 a week the Haitian workers made before a coup forced Rawlings to move its factory.

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

The consent of the governed. What does this mean? The Haitians didn't choose their government - it was taken over by military force. We didn't choose to be Americans, either. We got lucky. Our ancestors were for the most part the bottom dwellers of their societies, and we benefited. Did we consent to this government?

Well, yes. We have consented for 234 years, and when there was a problem, we amended our governing document. We consent with our actions, but not just voting. It is not difficult to go to a polling station once a year and spend five minutes in a voting booth. If that's all the time you have to spend on America, then you really shouldn't be complaining about the government.

No, action is much more than a ballot box. Action is volunteering for campaigns, knocking on doors, making phone calls. Action is donating to campaigns, not only for politicians but for causes that are just and right and in line with American principles which promote human rights and freedom. Action is writing letters to your congressional representatives and senators and executives in corporations and the editors of newspapers. Action is serving your country in the United States Armed Forces instead of cheering wars from the sidelines.

But most of all, action is informing yourselves and being aware of the world that you impact every time you make a choice.

Today is the anniversary of the cancellation of the 1945 All Star game due to travel restrictions placed during World War II. It got me thinking about how ballplayers fought in the war, and not just the B players, either, but stars like Ted Williams. Can you imagine today's pampered players serving their country? Everyone made a big deal when Pat Tillman joined the Army, but why? He was just doing his American duty. Hardly any Americans serve their country anymore.

Despite four Reds on the team, the 2010 All Star events will have a green theme this year. MLB has teamed up with the National Resources Defense Council (you can follow them on Facebook) to promote environmentally responsible practices. I am so proud of Major League Baseball, which has been at the forefront of social progress in America throughout its history, most notably when Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers more than a decade before the Civil Rights movement.

I can already hear a certain segment of the population moaning. I just don't get it. Or maybe I do. Most Americans cannot see the consequences of their actions, therefore do not think about them. Some even deny these consequences exist. They chalk it up to "propaganda" by their political opponents because it doesn't fit with their narrow world view. A small minority don't care that their actions are negatively affecting the world. You can't change these people because they are sociopaths (in the clinical sense), but you can help others understand that the choices they make in their lives DO affect others. I am a fairly well-traveled individual, my most recent trip being a four month stint in Beirut. I am pretty cognizant of the world around me, too, but wow, were my eyes opened wider during my stay.

The consequences of climate change in Lebanon are visible to the naked eye. Desertification is ravaging the agriculture industry and is responsible for the frequent forest fires that are destroying the biblical cedars of Lebanon and what little forest cover the country has left. Water is becoming more and more scarce in this mountainous, beautiful land.

Where there is no water, there is conflict.

We didn't know the consequences our actions had on the planet until recently. As human beings, we have a right to water to drink, air to breathe, and the food we need to survive. That's why environmental issues are human rights issues.

Once upon a time, America really was that thing so many of us think it still is. Do the world a favor as we head into the All Star break. Think about what it means to be an American. I mean really think about it. Think about how lucky you are to have been born here when so many people of the world have nothing. Think about what your ancestors went through to come here, how they had to leave their homes behind to search for a better life. Think about the leadership role we play in promoting human rights and liberties.

Think about the choices you make. Think about what you buy. Pay attention to the consequences of your actions. Think about how buying a new phone every time one comes out is contributing to the mass slaughter and brutal rape of Africans. Think about how your gas guzzling vehicle contributes to such disasters as the BP catastrophe. Think about how your coffee consumption could be fueling child slave labor. Think about how many people on this earth are working in dangerous conditions for very little pay so we can live our fat cat lifestyles. Think.

It's not liberalism. It's humanity. It's not being a hypocrite. It's being an American.

America was founded on the principles of human rights and freedom. Let's stay true to our principles and reclaim our place in the world as the beacon of light and hope that brought so many of our ancestors here. And GO NATIONAL LEAGUE!

(This was supposed to be published on Independence Day, but I didn't have time to finish it before I headed off to Chicago.)

1 comment:

Daedalus said...

Had to shutdown comments for awhile because of excessive spam. Looking for alternatives...