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Monday, April 22, 2013

Jackie Robinson, God, and the Chicago Cubs


Got back from Chicago, where I went with my son and my 93 year old dad to dad’s first ever pro ball game, which we took in at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs take on the Rangers.  A fun evening.  Just the weekend before my wife and I had gone to see the movie “42” and so, when the players at Wrigley were wearing 42 Jerseys, I understood why in a pretty good way.  So today took dad to go see the movie, second time for me, first for him.  In my humble opinion, it is probably the best movie I have seen in years….a great story, a pretty clean show and a great message.  A message I didn't fully appreciate until I saw the movie.  I had no idea how hard things must have been for Jackie Robinson, nor did I realize that Branch Rickey was instrumental in the process of intentionally integrated major league baseball.  I grew up long after it was integrated.   Some of the incidents that occur are just staggering and hard to imagine actually happening here in the United States…even though I know they did, and worse.  And, of course, with all the stories of “ethnic cleansing” in so many places around the world…it is hard to deny that such hatred exists.

What great men Jackie and Branch must have been.  And there have always been great men and women in history who have stood up against the awful things of the world to try to make a change for the better.  And, of course, as we have seen in the last week, there are always individuals who stand up and find new ways to bring evil into the world.   In our generation, we still need people to stand for something, to make a difference for goodness and kindness and love and right and all those wonderful things we treasure in life and in history.  Prejudice, racism…and yes, even divorce, all symptoms of a fallen world filled with selfishness and sinfulness. 
What is it about ourselves that causes us to want to prove we are better than somebody else?  That makes us somehow think we are superior if we can find a way to put somebody else beneath us, socially, financially, intellectually, politically….or as Jackie experienced, racially?  The color of a person’s skin?  Really?  Somehow that makes an individual inferior or superior?  Where I grew up, we didn't have many Asians or Native Americans, but there were Hispanics and Blacks in my schools, and I don’t remember even giving it a second thought as a child.   We just played our games, did our schoolwork, had our little tiffs, but managed to get along.  I guess because we all knew we belonged there.  And the most anybody had to prove was whether they could hang in on the spelling bees or who could run the fastest in the school races.  But even those things didn't make us better than somebody else, just different, or talented in different ways. 

In the movie, Branch makes the observation of how hard it would be to explain to God why an owner kept blacks out of baseball.  He has a good point.  Only it doesn't merely apply to baseball.  After all, do you think God made a mistake by choosing to make people of all different colors, personalities and abilities?  I suspect the intention is to see how well we will keep the command to love one another, even if the “another” is an enemy. 

I don’t know if you heard the aunt of those young men in Boston or not, but she kind of went on a bit of a rant about how much Chechen's are discriminated against, both in Russia and in the United States.  It is hard to tell if that was true…she seemed a little over the top, but it does make one wonder how much of her anger (and that of the young men) could have come out of the kind of discrimination that was practiced against Jackie Robinson as well.  I saw a note that indicated Boston hasn't been the most racially kind city in its past….the Red Sox were even the last MLB team to become integrated.  So maybe there is more beneath the story than we might hear. 

I guess this is kind of a ra

mbly blog, and you can take from it what you want.  But know that, in my opinion, racism and prejudice are a couple of the stupidest things humans have done to one another.  How much better for each of us to just accept who we are, and to be the best self we can be while we encourage others to do the same regardless of these kind of differences.  And I hope you go see “42” because it is well worth the time.  The acting is very good, the whole feel of the presentation is great, and it can inspire you to want to make your corner of the world just a little bit better.  And I hope you do just that.

TL:dr  The movie “42” offers a good source for reflection on racism in our day and age.

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