rotating header

Friday, March 11, 2016

On Winning

Winning, in a word, has been the campaign that seems to be appealing to America most.  And rather than bashing the person who keeps repeating it over and over, it seems to be a wake-up call to examine our national ethos, our values.  This is a democracy, after all.  If we elect someone who is a misogynist isolationist bully, then we have to come to terms with that tendency in our own hearts.

I like to win.  Yesterday our two favorite teams both lost.  Duke had a huge lead in the quarterfinals of the ACC basketball tournament that painfully slipped out of their grasp, and in spite of a valiant effort that took them into overtime they were eliminated.  And last Saturday, they lost to UNC at Cameron.  Bleh.  Man U lost to Liverpool.  The Myhres were not happy.

But where is the line between healthy competition, running the race, striving to do our best, feeling the pleasure of God in the gifts we've been given . . . and needing to impose ourselves by force, to have our views dominate and our people at the top? How do we preserve a spirited romp on the playing field, a passionate and fun culture of blue paint and hoarse cheering, while rejecting a dangerous drift into winning-is-all?

First, remembering that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."  Muslims are not our enemies.  Our enemies are fear, hate, greed, oppression, all the things that drive ISIS and are being stirred up to drive our country as well.  So when a candidate is asked about targeting the families of terrorists, against the Geneva conventions, and answers that our laws need to be "expanded", we should ask ourselves, is this what we want?

Second, if we keep in mind that we are in a struggle against things bigger and darker than our suspect neighbors, we will choose the right weapons, beginning with truth, moving with good news that God is big enough to love all of us.  That no human is irredeemable.  That prayer is our first and last resort.

Don't get me wrong, I have a son in the military and I believe that the restraint of evil requires physical strength too.  Police and military are part of life on a broken planet, just like doctors are.  But we who engage in that restraint of evil must do so with a loyalty first and foremost to goodness and love. We must not sell our souls to ensure our victory.  We must not stoop to becoming the bully.

Last week Scott and I were interviewed for the Global Entry system the US has set up for frequent travelers.  We had filled out extensive applications, submitted records and passports, gone to great lengths (and long drives) to fulfill our appointment, paid a large fee.  The uniformed officer behind the desk, however, treated us like suspect criminals.  He asked us repeatedly if we had ever been accused of a crime.  He was belligerent and made no effort to be polite.  When he got to the question of our address, and I tried to explain our situation (permanent address in VA where our official residency is, but most of the last 22 years in East Africa where we work), he blustered that we didn't understand the concept of address and we should have included a Kenyan one (there was no option for two) and now our applications would likely be delayed if they were approved at all.  He was on a power trip, with no interest in us.  It was a tiny taste of authority gone bad. We were, after all, fully within our rights and actually PAYING him to do his job.  He however, perceived that his role gave him the right to bully us.

One small window into a culture of power.  Is this who we want to become?  Swaggering, posturing, self-promoting self-protective people who must force our way over everyone else?  Pray for our country to use this election as a time of looking into the mirror, and realizing that there are values more important than winning.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

This is so beautifully spot-on! Yes, yes, and yes! I have wrestled with this "winning is all" attitude in myself during CSB soccer seasons -- my desire is to teach our kids to play their very hardest, to delight in the gifts He's given them as they work hard, and of course my desire is to win -- but at what cost? At the cost of them learning no other lessons? At the cost of leaving behind those who participate because they delight in the game, even if they are not the most skilled? At the cost of belittling others? No. When I stop to examine the implications, I realize that winning is very fun and is definitely worth celebrating, but perhaps losing teaches us all even more. And I think how we win or lose teaches (and communicates) the most. Thanks for writing with truth and honesty. Praying alongside you all for hte future of this nation.