Friday, June 25, 2010

Whose Right is Right?

So, I’m sitting in a conference with a group of History teachers and we’re discussing the Constitution. A lady sitting next to me says, “I’m against any amendment that takes away a right from someone else.” On the surface, that sounds like a statement that would rally people and influence them to support her. But, let’s examine that statement a little further…

My first question is this: What is a “right”? Are we talking about John Locke’s basic human rights of life, liberty, and property? If that’s true, wouldn’t ANY law passed infringe on the “right” of somebody?

The answer is yes, of course. Americans love to throw around the word “rights.” It makes us feel good to say that we have rights that are protected by the Constitution. It makes us feel self-righteous, and consequently on the “right” side, when we claim someone’s rights are being violated and that it isn’t fair.

So, is it possible to pass a law that doesn’t infringe on someone’s right to liberty? Of course not. Every law passed is going to take away the freedom of someone to do something. In most cases, that’s a good thing. We want laws that protect our property. We want laws that make sure businesses act ethically. We want laws that protect our way of life.


What happens when our way of life takes away the liberty of others? Can we make the argument that it should be protected? If that were true, there would be all kinds of people who still wouldn’t be able to vote, so that can’t be right. I guess what it comes down to then is this: Whose liberty is more important? Who deserves to be protected under the law? Is there a right answer to that question?

Probably not. But while the conversation continues over laws in this country that should or should not be passed, let’s remember that blanket statements like “Let’s make sure we don’t take away anyone’s rights” is not a well-thought out argument. Someone’s going to lose a “right” somehow.

And if that’s the case, we need to make sure we examine our thinking before we speak…

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Whining Epidemic...

So, this is nothing new, but I’ve been watching a lot of sports lately…and I’ve learned something. There’s a lot of wasted time in sports. It’s not the showboating of the players (although that doesn’t help), it’s not the timeouts (and the interminable commercial breaks that go with them), and it’s not the substitutions.

It’s the arguing with the referees.

Arguing with the referees is a time-honored sports tradition. It goes back to Cain and Abel when Cain, after killing Abel, argued with the Lord about whether or not he was his “brother’s keeper.” Since then, we’ve been treated to people like John “You cannot be serious!” McEnroe, Kobe “I’ve never committed a foul in my life” Bryant, and every single soccer player ever born.

Think of how much faster games would be if we didn’t have to wait for baseball players and coaches to argue with umpires. If we didn’t have to wait for basketball players and their coaches to argue with the referees. Let’s be honest. A call, once it is made, is very rarely overturned (unless it’s a sport that uses instant replay). I guess the argument in the meantime is that, by complaining enough, maybe next time the referee/umpire will be watching closer or give the other team a make-up call.

Wouldn’t it be great if referees and umpires came charging up to players after they made a mistake and got in their faces and yelled at them? “No,” you say. “That would be ridiculous!” Then why do we allow athletes to do it?

It even permeates down to our children. A friend of mine and I volunteered to teach soccer at Cub Day Camp this week. At the end of our sessions with the kids, we let them play a game for about 20 minutes while he and I refereed the game. You wouldn’t believe the number of complaints and whines we heard from kids who were 8-10 years old. And we were volunteers. And these kids were supposedly playing for fun.

This disturbs me. Not just from a “it makes the game take longer” standpoint, but also the example 95% of our athletes give to our children. The attitude seems to be that “I never do anything wrong” and “It’s someone else’s fault.” Referees and umpires do their best under incredibly stressful and fast moving conditions. Yep. They screw up. A lot (like the 3rd goal disallowed by the ref in the US/Slovenia match this morning. Don’t get me started). But overall, they do an excellent job. So, athletes. Coaches. LAY OFF.

Besides, I have other things to do in my life besides watch a bunch of whiners set horrible examples for my children.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Musings of a Human Father

Here it is. The start of summer. The start of not having to work. The start of what should be a wonderful time.

But I’m partially dreading it, because at my house it’s also the start of this:

“I’m boooooooorrrrrred.” “What can we do todaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy?” Which then turns into kids fighting, sniping, arguing, complaining, etc. And I hate to say it, but I start to think, “How much longer ‘til I get to go back to work?”

I have to admit, I’m ashamed of this line of thinking. I mean, I love my children, don’t get me wrong. I have three kids: Justin (10), Katelyn (8), and Carley (almost 5). They are wonderful, adorable children who are a pleasure to be with. I just wish I could love them without having to listen to “Can we go to McDonald’s for lunch (or breakfast, or dinner)?” twenty times.

A day.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking one of two things. You’re thinking, “Wow. That sounds EXACTLY like my family.” Or you may be thinking, “Wow. That father needs to get his priorities straight.”

True. I do. I need to spend more time enjoying my children and the time I have with them. I know I only have so much time to enjoy them. I can focus on the fighting over the TV, arguing about who hit who first, complaining that there’s “nothing to do” and all the other small things that drive me nuts. Or, I can enjoy the insights and craziness of a four year old, an eight year old who is arranging a family talent show so she can do 20 (at last count) different acts, a ten year old who is so thoughtful and plays with his sisters, baseball games, soccer games, board games with the family, reading together, nighttime hugs, kids who want to play with me and the many other joys of fatherhood. These are the things that make having children so worth it.

I know that my time with them is short; that childhood is fleeting and that, before I know it, they’ll be gone. That in a few years, when they’re (shudder) teenagers, I’ll long for the problems I think I have now.

And so my friends, although another summer starts and I dread some of it, I will choose to ignore those admittedly little things that drive me crazy and pay attention to the greater things that make me love my children. Besides, before I know it, my children will be grown and gone with kids of their own and I’ll be able to laugh, when I hear my grandkids say to their parents,

“I’m boooooooorrrrrred.”

Friday, June 11, 2010

America's Standards?

When you read a news story on the web, do you ever read people’s comments below the story?

I do. It can be entertaining, scary, and enlightening all at the same time. But sometimes, it’s just scary.

I usually feel this way when there’s a story about something that’s been shown on TV that probably should not have been shown on TV. That’s when I always read the following inevitable comment: If you don’t want to watch it, just turn it off.

Does that make it ok? By this logic, should anything be allowed on TV, since people can just “turn it off”?

This kills me. Have we sunk so low as a country that we feel as though anything should be allowed to be broadcast? Are there no standards left? How far does free speech extend anyway?

I’ll be honest. I worry about what my kids see on TV. Sure, I can monitor and make sure they don’t see certain things. But anymore, the most inappropriate things pop up at the strangest times and on the strangest stations. Besides, an enterprising young child can find anything on the internet nowadays.

And then the next argument comes: Well, you should monitor your kid on the internet too! Yep. Absolutely. That’s a parent’s job.

But how far does this go? As a parent, am I not allowed to express my concerns about the lowering of America’s standards? Or are my arguments invalid because they don’t match the liberal interpretation of freedom of speech? People like me usually get shouted down as old fashioned, conservative, etc. And these are insults, apparently.

Oh well. I don’t care. Some things are just wrong.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In Defense of...(gulp) Umpires

OK everyone. Time to take a breath…I’m about to defend an umpire.

Last night’s blown call in the Detroit Tigers/Cleveland Indians game is not the end of the world.

Record books don’t need to be re-written. Umpires don’t need to be fired. And certainly, umpires families don’t need to be threatened…

Because all that happened last night was…well…life.

In case you missed it, Armando Galarraga took a perfect game into the 9th inning against the Cleveland Indians. On what should have been the last play of the game, the hitter for the Indians hit a ground ball to the right of first base. Miguel Cabrera picked it up and threw to Galarraga who was covering 1st base. The runner was out by half a step, and Galarraga should have begun celebrating a perfect game.

But he couldn’t. Because Jim Joyce, the umpire, called the runner safe. In case you missed it, here’s the clip.

Now, Joyce has apologized for blowing the call. Galarraga has accepted the apology. Why the uproar? Some people are upset because Major League Baseball is refusing to overturn the result and award a perfect game to Armando Galarraga.

Why should they?

Baseball has always had a human element to it. There have always been blown calls. Mistakes are sometimes made as the ones who call the game are human. And let’s remember that. Baseball history reflects this. Why change now? Now, if you want to make the argument that baseball should incorporate more instant replay, I’ll certainly listen to that, but to change results of games based on a mistake? That would take away from one of the great things about sports: Sometimes, it’s a microcosm of life that we can learn from.

Every once in a while in life, mistakes are made, either by ourselves or someone around us. One of the things we need to learn in life is how to deal with the mistakes. There’s no DeLorean with a flux capacitor that lets you go back in time and fix what you did wrong. So really, all you can do is apologize and move on. And that’s exactly what these two classy individuals are doing. An apology was extended and accepted. What better lesson could we learn from this? Sometimes, life is not fair. Should Galarraga have a perfect game? Absolutely. Is it unfair that he doesn’t? Absolutely.

But that’s life, people.

There’s also an uproar from people calling for Joyce to be fired. These crazy nutjobs (and especially the ones who should be locked up for threatening his family) need to remember one simple thing: Everyone is human. Everyone makes mistakes. The mistakes you and I make may not make national news, but they happen. When you make a mistake on your job, do you get fired? Probably not. You learn from it, and you move on. Which is exactly what Jim Joyce should be able to do now, especially since the one he wronged accepted the apology and is moving on.

And we should do the same.