This is an absolutely amazing story.
The next Heisman Trophy will be dished out December 13th. And Heisman has problems: Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, and Cam Newton. Three of the past four Heisman winners have been great players on the college gridiron, but present so much trouble off field.
There’s also Robert Griffin III. The former 2011 Heisman winner looks eerily similar to that of Ryan Leaf – out of the league in four seasons. Griffin received extensive criticism of both work ethic and leadership. The most scathing assessment came from Coach Gruden, who described Griffin being “coddled” in past accomplishments. Gruden said Washington’s offensive output was “awful” and lambasted Griffin for passing blame onto teammates.
Approaching this weekend’s Heisman, the award is presented to the most outstanding player in college football whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. Accordingly, the debate is always whether off-field stuff should be considered at all in a vote for the most outstanding player.
Have any of the past winners exhibited anything close to excellence with integrity? Unfortunately, sportswriters don’t like to change their process when giving awards. They focus upon statistics, lacking both research and introspection. There’s no objective standard for picking the Heisman winner. It’s just football.
I was reminded of this disparity while sitting in an airport waiting for a flight to nowhere, overhearing two men:
“Jameis Winston is a true leader, a good Heisman candidate.”
“Yeah,” quipped the other. “FSU is the best. Winston’s right up there.”
“What happened to integrity?” said a woman overhearing.
“Hey, Winston is a great field general. True leader,” one responded mockingly.
“Really?” queried the woman.
“Yeah,” both men nodded.
“Either of you hear of ‘The Collegiate Women Sports Awards?’”
“Nope,” both men nodded.
“The Collegiate Women Sports Awards is like the Heisman for women. The award recognizes not only superior athletic skills, but also leadership, academic excellence, and eagerness to participate in community service.”
“Wow,” each man murmured.
“Now imagine the women’s nominee standing on a table, in the middle of a dinning hall, yelling ‘Kick the quarterback in the balls.’ Do either of you think she’d still be a nominee?
With that, she gathered her luggage and left to catch her Flight.
From a Buddhist perspective, everyone has to examine the life being led, your world-view and things taken for granted. Integrity is speaking with love, compassion, and understanding. Integrity is looking another in the eye who is causing suffering and telling them to stop. This form of integrity comes from compassion and for their victim. It is a truthfulness, which is not only within you, but is also in the world before you.
We all need integrity – more so if your a Heisman Trophy winner.
Black Lives Matter started as a conversation on Facebook between two black women in two different cities – Oakland and Los Angeles. One friend wrote adding a hash tag to the three words that became a modern day slogan. And thus, “Black Lives Matter” was born.
After having a “Black Lives Matter” sign stuck in my face while stopped at an intersection near a store in Clayton, Missouri and watching New York protesters, I gave serious thought to the following statement.
Black lives son’t matter.
Before smoking steam, allow me to opine.
Having been a Saint Louis, Missouri resident and still owning a home, I bring forth the following observations.
Lastly, we have to give our police officers a break. Society straps a gun to their waste and tells them to save us from ourselves. These officers deal with our shit and we expect only perfection. Borrowing from Chapin, they see pimps and whores, rapes and more, punk gang wars, robberies and homicides. They walk the beat with the creeps of the street, it’s damn hard to hide. A police officer recently said,
“The first 5 years I felt good about who I was and what I was doing. That was until I realized I was a a social janitor. “Clean up in isle 9.” Someone vomited.”
I believe neither Brown nor Garner should be dead. However, we don’t have the audacity to claim impose our smug self-imposed judgement based upon prejudice. Justice for the few is not justice for all.
Every life has to matter. And believing Black Lives Matter requires participation. Society must participate in something beyond yelling, screaming and looting. It has to be meaningful and with love.
Anything less than full participation means “Black lives won’t matter.”
And who’s responsible? You and I.
Since Jameis Winston and other professional football players have graced our national news, I’ve not watched football. As one writer penned, most college and professional teams subtly state, “Listen, if you want to hate, go ahead. We’ll keep on winning. That’s the bottom line here: winning.“
In the two years since a woman on the Florida State campus accused Winston of sexual assault — throughout the initial investigation, Winston missed one game. To Florida State, yelling “Fu*k her in the pu**y” in a crowded lunch room is worth a one game suspension. But rape? Nada.
By the time both college and professional football seasons conclude, Winston will have applied for the NFL Draft and leave school, child abuse charges of Minnesota Vikings Petersen and spousal abuse by Baltimore Ravens Rice will come and go.
Most of us demand rapists and abusers be jailed, beaten or hanged. We scream, “No mercy.” For indeed, they deserve none. But then we punish the victim we’re fighting for? Why? We demand justice for victims, yet choose to do injustice? We print names, addresses, discuss personal motives, what they wore, what they said. We shun victims for something they didn’t commit? Why? For a goddam game?
Our strategy for dealing with rape has failed abysmally. Female students and women are raped in appalling numbers, yet the rapist almost invariably goes free. The New York Times reported more than 90 percent of college campus rapes are committed by a relatively small percentage of men — possibly as few as 4 percent — who rape repeatedly, averaging six victims each. Yet these serial rapists overwhelmingly remain at large – free to rape again.
Well, if you’re a number one ranked team with a very talented, albeit idiotic, quarterback or running back, it’s about the bottom line: winning. However, if society is genuinely interested in preventing sexual or physical assault, then we need to overhaul how we think about assault and what to do about it. To do this, we must forgo winning at all costs.
That’s why I’ve refused to wrap myself in either college or professional football.
At the end of the day, I’ve concluded college and professional football is nothing more than a contest pitting a bunch of well-compensated, no-neck entertainers against a millionaire boys’ club for possession of the nation’s fall sporting ritual. We as a nation must summon central issues, including the question of what makes one man walk the line and while management looks the other way.
As in any other game, success depends on the ability of the team to instill in its members a sense of shared values and goals. And personally, whenever I see or read about Florida State University, I question its ‘shared vision.’
It’s all about the bottom line: winning.
For several months a friend repeated her envy of another. Her friend married a Harvard educated doctor, lives a life of prosperous wealth, works part-time, travels, owns an exquisite home and lives with relative ease.
Envy seemed to know no bound – until this past week.
During a meeting of a Christian group the envied friend requested prayers to fight early dementia, her constant forgetfulness and inability to find the right words. And having a sarcastic sense of humor, I quietly learned over and whispered, “Envy her now?”
Whether or not I’m the prick everyone claims that I, at times, can be, we all know this envy. Everyone of us has envied someone else. “Gosh, if I only have what she has? Then I would make it.” “Wow, if I only had the talent he has? I would know no bounds.”
All of us know someone better. They appear better, seem better; live better, laugh better and probably shit better. They’re better, in every way.
By perceiving others to have an advantage we subconsciously “level the playing field.” We make up the difference by puffing ourselves. “I am envious of your success” translates to “I wish you would fail, I deserve your success more.” I am not happy with who, what or where I am.
Envy runs through history like raging water after heavy rain. It’s seen people kill, take their own lives, maim, undermine and give up. We aspire, then we hate.
Truthfully, there are days even I envy. After three decades of illness, I’ve worked hard on overcoming those who dart past me at 90 miles an hour without a care. I envy those who wake up without pain berating their body. I’ve envied this or that; this place, that place, here or there.
Envy – such a painful emotion that prevents peace within the moment, life as it is.
This Thanksgiving, serve gratitude. Be grateful to someone. Look outside yourself and acknowledge your dependency on others – in particular love – for its the source of life’s goodness. Thank everyone for kindness, generosity and friendship.
Just as my friend was shocked by another’s dementia diagnosis – be careful for which you envy, for God might provide.
Reading Ms. Anne Kadet’s article, I Did It: 6 Days of Eating Dog Food made me roar with laughter. Kadet explains:
“I’ve been on a paleo diet all year — living on meat, eggs and vegetables. I love it and feel great. But all that fresh meat and produce costs a fortune. Plus, there’s a lot of cooking, and I have better things to do with my time — like reading dog food labels. And yes, I couldn’t help notice that my dog’s high-end kibble — like my paleo diet — is high in protein, grain-free and gluten-free. It’s made with “simple, holistic ingredients.” It’s fortified with omega-3 and omega-6 and antioxidants. The best part? Canidae is an expensive dog food, but at 85 cents a meal, it’s a lot cheaper than eating paleo.”
Hmm. Yum, Yum.
So the Cadet took readers through a six-day dairy of edible nuggets. While I never consumed food like Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain, I’ve had a few strange eats.
For instance, I never let the fact one requires a license to prepare Fugu (pufferfish) stop me from slipping down several morsals. I know Dolphins get high eating the stuff, I did not.
Twenty-years ago, I mistook a container of Science Diet (cat food) in the refrigerator for refried beans. I was advised of my error by the homes’ owner, Figaro. Coward by nature, Mr. Figaro became quite stalwart about his Science Diet. By what can I say, it was pretty good.
An old girlfriend loved eggplant, like an everyday love, nearly every meal love. I’ve never had eggplant cooked so many ways. So much so I’m convinced Ursula K. LeGuin was right when she retorted, “I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant.” To this day I’m convinced my ex-girlfriend was eradicated.
All I really know about the diet of cats and dogs comes from Christopher Hitchens:
“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
Then again, I realize a cat is a sovereign state with a tail.
I’ve never eaten the same food for six straight days, just not my motif. But this doesn’t prevent humans justifying eating strange things morning, noon, and night for extended periods. At the end of the day, all I recommend is to eat healthy. The human body doesn’t require weird diets or crazy food.
One Zen student said, “My teacher is the best. He can go days without eating.”
The second said, “My teacher has so much self-control, he can go days without sleep.”
The third said, “My teacher is so wise that he eats when he’s hungry and sleeps when he’s tired.”
Now that Republicans control both houses of Congress, there is newfound effort to craft legislation rolling back part or all of the Affordable Care Act. Obviously President Obama would veto any legislation that eliminates the whole program or threatens essential elements, such as the individual mandate requiring everybody to have health insurance. Still, Congress and the White House will probably play out the whole repeal drama anyway, no matter how scripted.
During the past six months, I’ve come to understand the greater untouched healthcare battle. The biggest costs to health and soul are lost in intimate moments, as loved ones care for aging parents, a disabled child or dying friend. Society rarely assesses impacts of social care from either the receiver or provider point of view. So while economic spillovers of healthcare benefits make a noteworthy newsbyte, neither private insurance nor public coverage through entitlement programs will meet the demand for care.
I am not unlike others, working by day, becoming healthcare provider by night. In reality, I care for two: my father and my ex-wife. My father has end of life dementia and my ex-wife has early Alzheimer’s. And while congressional leadership discuss gutting the Affordable Care Act, few, if any converse upon the daily efforts provided by millions. We’re neither cherished, honored nor recognized as financial burdens of caring mount.
It is we – the we that live and die in every moment – in the silent echoes of our mind, hoping for peace, hoping for relief, hoping for both.
Each of those whom I care had faith experiences. My father’s near death experience occurred in 2000. And until a few years ago, he claimed hving repeated Angelic visitors. My ex-wife claimed God spoke to her at an early age. In each case, personal communiqué with God propelled life, ethics and love.
As I lay my father’s aging hands under the sheets for another night, I reminisce when those hands possessed great strength. They lovingly provided for a family of four. Funny how the very hands that could craft wood now produces such great discomfort. And while massaging my father’s body, I wonder now if his Angelic friends remain near, provide any comfort or wait patiently.
Other days, I watch my ex-wife eyes explore a wondrous fish tank filled with beautiful guppies. It’s magical. In these moments, she’s freedom, grace, beauty and wonder — not merely a concept of mind, but as an experience reverberating throughout body and soul. Does she relive a thousand adventures, encased by swashbuckling heroes? Does she leave the boundaries of this tangible world to fly in the heavens of possibility? Has God conversed and eased her burden?
In reality, I know both will end either hooked to tubes and machines in an ICU or in a skilled nursing facility. But we caregivers struggle so hard, as adults, to figure out the meaning of what to do, how to be happy ourselves, and what it is we’re supposed to be doing versus what we can do.
Congressional representatives will provide little. Then again, I never thought of the radar until I became the radar. No one does. As a Buddhist, maybe answers aren’t important. Perhaps serving as caregiver was never intended to unfold life’s ultimate secret. Still, somewhere in the moments with those loved, I’ve found something far more important, a deeper sense of life itself.
Just like you, I live a journey. Maybe the journey matters. Just maybe.
Sociological Inquiry Into Life in Transition
‘sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya’
Roam & Home.