Friday, September 4, 2020

Epitaph on Humanity

 As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

The texts and emails arrived in mass last week.  Daniel Snyder, overlord of the Washington Football Team, was back in the news – always a bad thing – and a volley of ill-intended friends of other NFL persuasions wanted to ensure that I, longtime fan of the team, was aware.  I was easy prey; it was a familiar wound to peck.      

Twenty years into Snyder’s abysmal ownership, such occurrences have become cliché.  The ribbings from opposing fans have ceased to cause irritation.  After all, how could they resist?  Snyder’s been a treasure trove of botched coaching hires, obnoxious free agent signings, odd front office structures and disgraceful on-field performances.  The incompetence is just too tempting to ignore. 

But Snyder has gone next-level embarrassing this offseason.  First, after receiving pressure from big corporate sponsors (threats to his precious bottom line), he had to move on, kicking and screaming, from the team’s racially insensitive (being kind here) nickname.  Snyder’s years of foolish defiance of the inevitable left him so ill-prepared that his team will now play nameless this season.

After this debacle, a raging feud between Snyder and his minority owners was exposed - the tiff has one in a legal wrangle with Snyder and others so fed up with him that they are seeking to sell their stakes. 

Worst of all, though, are the growing reports of a deep, systemic organizational culture that permitted rampant incidents of sexual harassment and sowed a hostile, demeaning work environment for female employees.  The Washington Post first exposed the moral rot within Snyder’s franchise in a July expose.  It has proven to be the tip of an ugly iceberg, as last week, The Post published an expansive follow-up chronicling more boorish, disgusting behavior.  In all, 40 woman have made various allegations – propositions, verbal abuse and salacious outtake videos from a swimsuit calendar shoot - against some of the highest ranking men in the organization, including Snyder himself.   

It would be easy to lay this all at the feet of Snyder, slap him with the Scarlet letter and feel good that justice was served to society’s great amoral villain.  The uncomfortable reality is that what happened in Snyder’s organization is too common, and with creeps like Larry Nassar and Harvey Weinstein, among many others, this feels like just the latest chapter in human indecency.  And these are just examples of how women are treated; what about our on-going struggles with racism or the disgusting predation of children by the likes of Jerry Sandusky and evil doers in the Catholic Church?

If humans suddenly vanished and the epitaph on our species was written today, it would be “They had so much potential.”  When the next advanced Earth inhabitants or aliens sift through our artifacts, they will be puzzled by humans’ demise.  They will discover our amazing technological advances - including the ability to live sustainably within the planet’s resources, our great works of arts, the music of Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones, the deep thoughts of Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., the courage of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, the imagination of Dr. Seuss and Steve Jobs and a widely documented moral code – various “good books”, the seven deadly sins or Dangers to Human Virtue and the 10 Commandments (even reduced to two…and one adder…by the brilliant George Carlin), among many others.  It will all leave the beings analyzing human history asking, “How did they fail?” 

Not as evident in the relics will be our susceptibility to tribalism and fear-based propaganda, our failure to address inconvenient existential threats, our obsession with differences and our inability to embrace our common humanity.  There will be evidence of war but it will inadequately convey the depth of our compulsion to fight over territory, ethnic or racial dominance or whose god was cooler.  Despite our brilliance and accelerating technological arc, humanity’s legacy is its inability to tolerate, achieve equality, share vast resources and recognize our intertwined destiny – fatal flaws so illogical that it will shroud our ruin in mystery. 

Hypothetically speaking, of course…for we are still here and our ending remains mercifully unwritten.

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