Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Be Content or Desire to Be Better than Everyone Else?

There is a short "This is My Life..." segment that comes on the Disney channel. It's what I call a "push-up" for kids to get them motivated and energized and motivated. Three worthy points.

Point taken.

Yet this segment irritates the spirituality right out of me.

It's about this girl Olivia Holt who does gymnastics.

Just so no one misinterprets what I'm getting at here, Olivia is a beautiful young lady and her sport is a wonderful activity and I'm sure she's very good at it and equally kind to all her friends and those she meets in her sport. She looks like a lovely young girl. Bravo to her!

So...my intent...is not to disspel any of Olivia's strong points, assets, or work ethic. They (she) is to be admired.

But the message that hits me everytime this segment appears (which I hate to admit that our television is rewound too often during this holiday season)  is the part that lauds, "She can come into the gym and everybody surrounds her."

What is this saying to our daughters on the other side of the screen?

I'm sure Disney's good intentions would be:
  • get athletic and you'll be cool...like Olivia
  • do gymnastics and stay in shape and you'll be cool...like Olivia
  • workout 40 hours a week and you'll look beautiful...like Olivia
What saddens me is that Olivia is the only teen being recognized despite being on a team of many incredible teens. She is part of a team and she even lauds this team within her interview.

Drew Brees does the same. He applauds the whole team. He lifts it up. He's good that way.

As great as Drew Brees is, he does not make a whole team (and he knows it). The media is an extremely visual entity though and seldom listens to his generous words. As I was writing this (a die-hard Saints fan and life-long Louisiana resident during Monday night football, no less) Drew Brees broke the NFL single-season passing record. The Saints football team, which has been around since before Drew Brees was born (Saints 1967/Brees 1979, to be exact), has since become Bree's football team (as far as the media is concerned).

Of course, it isn't Drew's fault. The media is bad about tackling one specific "team" member and giving them so much credit that the rest of the team is made invisible.

I have never admired one-man teams. I do not believe in allowing a team player to be a spokesman for the rest of the team. They are equals and need a voice which speaks as a team voice. I am not a fan of MVP awards or other soul-entity awards. I know; I'm lame. And let's just ignore the times my children received an award and I cheered with Momma-pride because they have and I did. ;-)

I have been in the bleacher stands and seen another child get a coveted position or award without the proper entitlement to it. When you focus on an individual over a team, you begin to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Sports teaches injustice as well as justice. There are lots of life lessons going on within sports.

This is just my personal rambling and I could be totally wrong. I beg someone to set me straight if I am.

My reasoning is that there are always others on the team who have served the team well. One player does not a team make. They might not have had as prestitious position as quarterback but they might have been the best in the position they were given and without them the team would have suffered. They might have had a better attitude or been more punctual than others. But, for whatever reason, these things don't seem to matter when it's time to handout the laurels.

I know life is not fair but can't help but believe there has got to be a balance.

Through the years my sons have played sports I have noticed that you are not cool if you don't holler loudly, applaud widely, and have a bigger-than-life personality. People really do admire big personalities and in sports it is about tooting your own horn. The loudest wheel truly does get the attention. I think that's the world at large. Anyone who disagrees has evidently overlooked the injustice that can, and does, happen on the ball field.

 I say this as a mother whose sons are retiring from playing sports. My youngest son has hung up his soccer cleats. They are still eager and willing to play on a field with their friends and cannot wait to watch the Saints win the Super Bowl again. Sport will always play a big part of their lives and it was a huge part of their growing up years.

True, our children need good role models to follow during those impressionable growing years. Those role models should start at home. When they don't, sport personalities can foster good qualities and character but glorifying one man on a team leaves too much room for disappointment.

Valuing a team over one person is better for those reason.

I admire the players who are secure enough in their own shoes to play the game to the best of their abilities and pat the media's favorite on the back at the same time.  That's a true team player...knowing that we all matter, each and everyone of us.

While I believe it is worthy (and even necessary) to hold good examples for our children to look up to, I think that telling children that when someone walks into a room the other children surround her borders somewhat on the point of obsession.

We should never place someone that high on a pedastal. Too high up makes one heady. Too much risk of falling. Not to mention it gets lonely up there. At least that's what they say.

As Christians we are taught and told that we are individually priceless, a pearl of great price, worthy of Christ's death on a cross.

The media is destroying this truth.

The media is telling our children they can do it and they are valuable and they are special if...

...if they buy the product produced by the company who is sending out this message.

Too much of a good thing and all, ya know.

It is right and good to lift others up. In lighting someone else's candle it in no way diminishes our light. It only adds to the overall glow of what should be God's glory. Tebow has this one figured out.

We are letting the media set the standard, the qualities, and the stats for what makes us the best of the best.

Must we really be the best of the best?

Perhaps I'm missing something here.

But when Disney tells us that we're someone special when a whole room of people come and gather around us, the younger generation spends day after day walking into rooms and feeling they are not worthy enough. They learn early that you're supposed to desire to be better than everyone else; being content with who God made you to be simply isn't good enough.

They are never happy to simply be.

So I guess I really don't know. I still find it sad.

Thomas Merton said no man is an island and I tend to think an island would be very lonely with no one to share the coconuts with.

"Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best."

- Henry Van Dyke

(HT to Kim Fry for offering the appropriate quote that explains my long-winded version)

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