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By Forrest Hershberger
View from the Handlebars 

Game Time for Society


Over time, I’ve heard several coaches bark at their teams “practice like its game time,” and likewise “the play isn’t over until the whistle is blown.”

They’re references that probably don’t make sense unless you’re a sports fan, and even more if you’ve spent time in the sweaty practices and under the Friday Night lights.

I’m recalling these moments of high-strung coaches and players struggling for their places on the roster as I observe the many levels of society. None of the players on any given team stepped on the field or court on Day 1 and were awarded an MVP trophy on Day 2.

Even the best of players applies sweat, working with the team and taking direction from coaches to get the prize.

It sounds simple, but if it is that painless, there is no challenge in it, and no reward besides recognition of natural ability.

So where am I going, you ask. I question how many people are paying attention to what is happening around us. I often stand in amazement, shock really, when public figures are chastised for something they did 20, 30, 40 years ago. Regardless if today’s morals are right or wrong, none of us were born perfect.

Yet, there is this implication that because someone jaywalked when they were in secondary school, that person is not qualified to be a senator 30 years later. There was a comment on a social media platform recently of “People like reciting ‘Do not judge or you will be judged, but forget that God will judge,” or something like that. It seems like we have moved from even bible verses used as cliches to “at least I didn’t do (or get caught at) what he did!”

The same question should be asked at the national level.

When the colonies broke away from England, it wasn’t a clean separation. It is a safe bet many colonists thought the rebels had lost their minds. It is also safe to say even many who accepted their independence were mentally, emotionally and to some extent morally British, or wherever their homeland was. Developing a new identity takes time.

We are still children in the global sense. Remember, this form of democracy was called “the great experiment.” It had never been done before in this way, and there was no guarantee of success. All they had was a desire to do it their way.

I’m constantly caught on the Benjamin Franklin quote following acceptance of the constitution:

Yet, now we have people saying the U.S. is an evil country. Some of these voices say the very symbol of our nation is divisive. The Stars and Stripes themselves are divisive.

Divisive how? How is it divisive to have a symbol of separating ourselves from a tyrannical system? How does it create division to state the government must have limits? How is it divisive to write the basic rights not given by the government, assured by the government?

Years ago, I heard the statement that “anything the government gives, it can also take away.” It’s being proven. Pick a topic of discussion. The right social disruption and those we elect to represent us, limit us.

There’s two sides to this scenario, maybe three. When there’s this level of conflict, we should be asking why. Why are protests quickly turning to riots? Why is a rally resulting in forceful entry into the Capitol?

The next question should be why are lawmakers more concerned about the how than the why? The reaction is too often of placing limits like a parent with a young but strong-willed child. If the child can’t do what he’s told, then the Xbox is off-limits for two weeks. Remember: we are a society of adults even when we don’t act like it.

The related point is some of this action leads to a reaction resulting in more action. Maybe some of this conflict is because we’ve thrown away our moral compass, then blame others when society is out of control.

We’re at a place where we need to peel back the layers of the onion. But what do we do if searching for the soul of the nation becomes like the Grinch, except instead of two sizes too small, it is absent, an empty space in a dusty gourd? We can call for a course correction, address sins of the past while moving forward, but if we sell our birthright so easily, we must not have valued it to begin with.

The Fourth of July is a celebration of independence. Yet, we increasingly see people conceding to control by the government designed to serve us, to be part of us, not above us.

Maybe the problem is we are settling for too little, of ourselves and our government. Maybe it is time to live like it matters, not like we are on the practice squad with no chance of seeing the Friday night lights.


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