We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Revisiting the "Something" That May Be Happening

In a couple of posts back in February (here and here), I speculated on the possibility that "something is happening" in our world, something good.  That "something" is a variety of trends that bode well for the future.  The trends I highlighted in those postings are that Germans are drinking less beer in an effort to become healthier and domestic violence in the United States has been dropping significantly.  The world of sports offers another instance, namely the growing concern with American rules football head injuries.

In an eloquent posting entitled, "Football getting harder to watch," sports commentator Rick Reilly admits that he has become ambivalent about his life-long love of football.  He writes, "Now I hear that sound [of players colliding at full tilt] and wonder how soon it will be before they can't remember where they parked, their sons' middle names, or where their families went last summer on vacation. I see too much sorrow and ugliness to love football like I used to."  He then surveys players and the injuries they have sustained, esp. those affecting their minds, and he confesses, "This is the game I've spent 36 years glamorizing. These are the men I've spent five decades lionizing. And it turns out I was part of the problem. Howard Cosell stopped covering boxing when his conscience wouldn't allow it, and yet I go on. I'm addicted." Reilly concludes his posting by drawing a parallel between ancient Rome's gladiators and modern-day football players and finishes up by writing, "We are all still in that Coliseum. We are still being entertained by men willfully destroying each other. It's just that now, the sword comes later."

Reilly's article mirrors the growing concern in football with the consequences of an admittedly violent sport.  The parallel with boxing is an apt one.  And while neither boxing or football are likely to go away anytime soon, the concern for the consequences of their violence is something relatively new.  Toughness is no longer quite as glamorous as it once was.  Big men beating up on other big men leaves us feeling ambivalent.  We are a little more sensitive for the need to take care of them by putting in place new rules, improving their equipment, providing better medical care for them, and conducting continued research on the impact of physical contact on players.

In the larger scheme of things, this is not a big deal really.  Syria is still Syria.  Poverty is still poverty.  Climate change is growing worse.  On the other hand, a better future is going to be built brick by brick, and this change in attitudes towards violence in football is one small, good change that in its own way foreshadows the Kingdom.