July 1, 2016

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

No matter who you’re rooting for, we’re all in this together

Patti LambIt’s interesting what you find when you clean out your 8-year-old’s backpack at the end of the school year. Margaret was delighted to stumble upon a Colts pencil that she thought she had lost, but her smile faded when she discovered an invitation to a birthday party—from two months ago—that she forgot to give me. We also had to extract some inedible raisins and marshmallows. (I hope that’s what they were.)

One of the papers I found appeared to contain an autograph. I inquired about it, and Margaret immediately looked guilty.

“Whose signature is this?” I asked her again.

“I’m afraid to tell you,” she mumbled, “because you might be angry.”

I demanded to know at once, and she caved when I threatened to deprive her of dessert.

It turned out to be an autograph of an Indiana University football player who came to talk to the students about balancing academics and athletics.

She was afraid to tell me because our household cheers for the gold and black. Her dad graduated from Purdue University, and is a proud Boilermaker.

Margaret actually thought I would be upset with her because she had an autograph from a player on “the other team.”

I grabbed two ice cream sandwiches and asked her to join me on the porch for an early dessert and a little chat.

I explained that something got lost in translation and that our family does not dislike IU.

“It’s an amazing university where many of our family members have received incredible educations and earned impressive degrees,” I said.

“But your dad went to Purdue, and that’s the team he cheers for and follows,” I added.

I thought she understood, until a few weeks later when it was game seven of the 2016 NBA finals. Margaret was cheering for one team, and her brother was cheering for the other. They heckled one another shamelessly.

I paused the game to revisit the “IU” discussion.

“It’s good to be a loyal fan and support your team, but it’s not OK to be mean-spirited toward the opposing team,” I said.

I explained that, when we’re in competition mode, we forget that athletes on the opposing team have worked hard and have families and fans supporting them, too. God made all of us, and whatever jersey we wear, we are called to use our gifts to give him glory.

My thoughts turned to our country. Especially in this election year, when political competition is fierce, each party is fighting to win. It’s acceptable to respectfully disagree, but candidates and their political parties are not setting a good example when they slander or show hostility to the opposing party. Americans will never agree on everything, but we’re all in it together. I recently spotted a wise saying that asked a great question: “What if I told you that the left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird?”

As we celebrate this Fourth of July, I pray that God helps us to remain the United States. Lately, our nation has felt rather divided.

St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians, though written long ago, still apply today.

“I … urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:1-3).

God, please bless America.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: