As children, we were always taking sides. Whatever the game – red rover, tag, softball, or soccer – we set up “us” versus “them.” Winning always seemed to require that someone else lost. And expressions like “everyone is a winner” usually rang hollow in our ears.
Because even as children, we knew the score. Winning is better than losing. Winners are better than losers. One should be willing to do almost anything to avoid losing, even if that means bending a rule, being called for a foul, or spending time in the penalty box.
Well, listen up everybody. It’s a lie. The better player often doesn’t win. The playing field is never level. And life is rarely fair.
As adults, we know that hard work is not always rewarded. We know that some people get a head start, no matter what the race. We knowingly play a game that it is rigged. And we learn that “not getting caught” means the same thing as “following the rules.”
Why? Why must we endure unfairness and injustice? Why do innocent people get hurt while others seem to get away with murder. Why? Because we keep taking sides.
Well, do you want to know something? There are no sides. There are just people. There is just you and me and how we choose to treat each other. And right now, we are doing a pretty lousy job.
- When a woman is molested, abused, beaten or raped, we fail as a society. I don’t care what she wore or said or did. We fail if our women feel unsafe, objectified, and unloved.
- When a gay person is taunted, bullied, or discriminated against, we fail as a society. I don’t care whether you believe homosexuality is nature or nurture. We fail if our GLBTQ folk feel hated, victimized, and afraid.
- When a person of color is mistrusted, pigeon-holed, stalked, and murdered, we fail as a society. I don’t care what neighborhood they are in or whether you feel misguided superiority. We fail if our Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous and other neighbors live in constant fear of our judgment and violence.
- When a person winds up homeless, jobless, or hopeless, we fail as a society. I don’t care how much money or political clout you have. We fail when those with privilege oppress those who build our machines, serve our food, or teach our children.
We need to grow up. We need to stop failing as a society. And we need to stop taking sides. Hunger does not care if you are Christian or Muslim. Hate does not care if you are young or old. Illness does not care if you are Republican or Democrat. Hopelessness does not care if you are liberal or conservative.
Life is not NASCAR. The only way to truly win the game is for everyone to cross the finish line together.