Monday, July 18, 2016

Even baseball is no escape

In recent weeks the news in our country and around the world has been more disturbing than I can remember in a long time. Minneapolis, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Nice — the violence and the rampant killings are hard to understand for adults and harder to explain to children. I’ve stopped trying. The TV is off and there’s no family discussion of the world beyond Rhode Island and Pokemon Go. Perhaps I am doing a disservice to my children by not explaining to them that the roots of these conflicts go back many generations and that they are likely to continue for generations more, but it’s more important to me that their few precious years of childhood are not filled with worries about acts of terror or gun violence.

For me, baseball is an easy escape from the news — Big Papi continues to thrill us in the last half of his final year in baseball. Watching him at the All-Star game -- laughing, high-fiving with a big smile and a huge hug for everyone — was a wake up. How would his life in the U.S. be different if he weren’t a recognizable sports celebrity? Do you think he has stories about being pulled over for a broken taillight?  I drove around for a week with a headlight burned out and never once worried about the consequences of being pulled over. Even the fun of baseball is tainted by understanding that our country’s racial divide goes right through every clubhouse and every team.

And ugh. Politics. As we head into the most heated time in the election cycle lots of nasty things will be said about candidates up and down the ticket. Chances are good that some things will upset us and we’ll want to respond with angry words in response. It’s too easy to post, tweet or anonymously comment just to get it off our chests, isn’t it? But adding fuel to the fire is never a good idea and whether you choose to channel Martin Luther King Jr. and “turn the other cheek,” or Gandhi “keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior” or my mother “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” perhaps the best political discourse will be a silent one this year — and maybe that’s what I can tell my kids.

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