Sunday, January 10, 2016

Resolution: No Empty Stadiums

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

It’s resolution time, an exercise to complete with care.  As most people are their own worst critics, an honest personal critique immediately threatens the New Year’s inherent optimism.  In his classic Happy Xmas (War is Over), John Lennon captured the dilemma when he sang, “So this is Christmas; And what have you done; Another year older; And a new one just begun.” Precisely.  What have we done, beyond age another year?  A personal evaluation includes many tough questions.  Was I kind?  Selfless?  Patient?  Was I a good citizen and steward of the planet?  Did I dedicate enough time to family and personal relationships?  Are my finances and career in order?  Am I healthy spiritually (however you define that term)?  Physically?  Am I happy?  Satisfied?  Content? 

Considering that brutal self-examination, the likely answer to Lennon’s question “What have you done?” is “not enough”, a conclusion that anoints New Year’s the battle ground between an inadequate past and a hopeful future.  Before that dark cloud envelops your tender 2016 sky, consider an alternative: Instead of an introspective search for a 2015 failure to correct, look to the external world for inspiration and resolutions.  It’s less personal.  Less…depressing…and maybe more productive.  Where in the external world?  How about a few lessons from our local teams?  They offered plenty to ponder.   

Washington Nationals

Last spring, the Nats were a chic pick to win the World Series.  Bryce Harper even infamously asked, “Where’s my ring?” before the season.  Reality: The Nats finished 83-79 and missed the playoffs.  Perhaps a bit more humility, an acknowledgement of the uncertainty of tomorrow, would be wise.

Baltimore Ravens

Injuries, gut-wrenching losses…it was an awful year for Edgar Allen Poe’s blackbirds.  The Ravens had every right to quit.  By all accounts they should have quit.  Waved the white flag.  Tapped out.  They never did, competing to the end.  Bravo.  Adversity reveals character.  You’ll encounter the former in 2016, let it reveal your mettle too.

The ‘Skins

Washington was supposed to be a six-win team at best, a cauldron of chaos.  Instead, the ‘Skins morphed into the NFC East’s most stable team and became what no one thought they could be: division champions.  The lesson?  You will be doubted too.  In 2016, believe in yourself because it will occur to few others to do so.

Baltimore Orioles

The seminal moment in local sports last year occurred on April 29 at Camden Yards.  That afternoon, the Orioles played against the White Sox…in an empty stadium.  No fans were permitted entrance because Baltimore, a city I love and called home for six years, was on lockdown in the wake of the violent response to the unconscionable beating and handling of Freddie Gray by city police.  Gray died from his injuries, and while Baltimore’s buildings burned and public outrage boiled over in the aftermath, Camden Yards, a cathedral of civic pride, good times and unity, fell sadly, but perhaps appropriately, silent.

There’s a lot going in the world.  North Korea.  Paris.  ISIS.  The Middle East.  There’s a lot going on in the United States, too.  Ferguson, Missouri.  Charleston, South Carolina.  San Bernardino, California.  Baltimore, Maryland.  Lists of despair.  If there’s one resolution I hope that every single one of us is making for 2016, it’s to commit ourselves to our common humanity and to halt our compulsive tendency to stereotype and to focus only on our differentiating characteristics - race, religion, sexual orientation and politics.  In 2016, love must dominate hate. 

I’ll leave you with three thoughts from far greater minds.  First, this quote from Yoda: “Fear leads to anger; Anger leads to hate; Hate leads to suffering.”  Second is this thought from James Baldwin’s essay Everybody’s Protest Novel: “…panic motivates cruelty, this fear of the dark makes it impossible that our lives shall be other than superficial.”  And lastly, back to Lennon’s song for a few more poignant lyrics: “And so happy Christmas; For black and for white; For yellow and red ones; Let’s stop all the fight”…“A very merry Christmas; And a happy New Year; Let’s hope it’s a good one; Without any fear.”

To a peaceful 2016…and no more empty stadiums.

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