Saturday, October 06, 2018

Football Counter-Programming 2018: Week 6

Welcome everyone to another week of Football Counter-Programming. This, as always, is my personal attempt to distract you from college football on Saturday. How is it going for you so far this season? How many games have you missed? What have you done in place of slavishly sinking into the hegemony of semi-professional non-professional athletics?

Last week I kept my day away from football by being outside almost exclusively, assisting at Grace's first marching band competition in Lebanon, Ohio. And this Saturday it is more of the same. This weekend's competition is closer to Kentucky and the performance time is closer to midday than evening. So, we depart much earlier in the morning and drive longer. But we will get back home before Sunday begins.

Andbutso . . . what shall I talk about this week? Well, I'm going to repurpose someone else's content today. (When do I not do that, I guess?)

Several months ago, I was toiling through some sort of work-related spreadsheet and listening to podcasts--one of which is John Green's super twee podcast that seems an auditory spiritual cousin to Charles Kuralt's original CBS Sunday Morning show.

And during this particular episode, John  describing how John and his Chicago (post-college) roommates were watching CNN in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. One of John's roommates (Hassan) had family living in Kuwait and Hassan had not heard from them.

"So one evening just after the U.S.-led forces had entered Baghdad, we were all watching the news on the couch together. New footage was being broadcast from the city and we watched as a cameraman panned across a home with a huge hole in one of its walls--that was mostly covered by a piece of plywood.
There was angry-looking Arabic grafitti scrawled in black spray paint on the plywood and the reporter on the news was talking about the anger in the street and the hatred. And Hassan started to laugh.
I asked him what was so funny and he said: "The graffiti." And I said "What's funny about it?" And he said "It says 'Happy birthday sir, despite the circumstances.'"
On a minute-by-minute basis, it's really hard for any of us to consider the Happy Birthday Sir, Despite the Circumstances possibility. We project our expectations and fears and etcetera on everyone and everything we encounter. We believe that what we believe to be true must be true because we believe it. We imagine lives that feel distant from ours monolithically. We oversimplify. And we forget that everyone has birthdays. . . . 
[W]hen we can't read what's on the plywood, but still think we know what it says, we're spreading ignorance and bigotry. Not peace and friendship."

[transcribed from Episode 7 of John Green's podcast "The Anthropocene Reviewed" beginning at time stamp 16:55]

I started formulating this idea as a draft several months ago and that is when I was struck by these words. I think the sentiment is a helpful one to consider no matter when you happen to read this post or under what circumstances this post comes to you.

May we each try a little harder to remember that everyone--even the place kicker who is trying really hard to beat your alma mater this weekend--has a birthday.

And from that realization, let us try to see a bit more of ourselves in each person we encounter--whether it happens to be their birthday that day or not.

See you next week!

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