Gradually over the past 9 months, I have noticed a change in the rhetoric coming out of the Clemson University football program. What I used to laud and promote centered on love:
“We serve their hearts, not their talents.”
“We win because we love each other.”
“Let’s take what we have here out into the world.”
Those beliefs may still hold true and live strong within the foundation of the program, but the rhetoric coming out of the stadium these days is “Best is the Standard.”
I had wanted to write a book about the earlier rhetoric because I believed such teaching could be adopted and embraced by any program, any school, any group, or any person, and if embraced, it could change the world. It was relevant and reachable by anyone. But being ‘best’ is not. I may still write a book about the rhetoric and focus on the shift it has taken, but right now we have more pressing issues to address — COVID-19.
The backbone of my book was the truth that people will generally not listen to anything they don’t already believe except in a time of crisis. After a night in jail, a young man will sit quietly and listen to everything his father has to say. Parents will listen intently to the surgeon as their child is being rolled toward the operating room. And athletes of all ages will focus on the words of the coach when there are only 10 seconds left on the clock and the score is tied. These moments are crisis moments.
The world currently finds itself in such a crisis moment. And at a time like this, when we are listening intently, it matters what we listen to.
Who in this world has not wished for world peace? (And no, I’m not pushing for a global government.) But whether prayed for fervently or just said lightly, we all want it. We all want people to just be nice to each other, be kind, and respectful. Yet are we willing to let it happen?
In the 1930s and 40s, Kenneth Burke wrote extensively about the threat of war and the power of scapegoating to unite a people. Hitler used the tactic to build support for his terrifying goals. That tactic has been used a great deal lately to gather one political party together to unify its attack on another. Now we have leaders wanting to our one country to scapegoat another country as being to blame for this virus.
But we said we wanted world peace. We said we wanted to take the love we have for each other, “what we have here,” out into the world.
But if the goal is world peace — to love each other — to unite all people, then taken from history, a common enemy would do just that. I have read a few comments online, that an attack by an alien civilization had the potential to unite all countries around the world so why could this virus not be considered such an alien and unite us all?
If threatening enough, this virus could force us to knock down walls that separate us, but it probably won’t. The virus will be survived by most of us and life will return to a semblance of what it was, with all of our needs to be best and greater and ‘us against them’ — until the next global crisis. Maybe we will choose world peace then. Or maybe we won’t. We do want world peace, right?
Then why not now?
We will win when we love each other.
Of course, I borrowed the image from the internet.