Jackie Robinson, Empathy and Shattering Stereotypes

42-HankAaronMissy and I watched the movie 42 last week. As you probably already know, Jackie Robinson was the first Black player in Major League Baseball. As you might guess, it wasn’t a smooth transition and Robinson endured a lot of hate and persecution along the way.

This movie could be a case study in how to shatter stereotypes. When a stereotype is first challenged, people typically cling to it more tightly than before and defend it even more vigorously. You see this in the movie as the insults start to fly, the boo’s of the crowd and very public curses and excoriation from opposing managers. The question at that point is whether the stereotype will hold true or be proven false. In other words, if Jackie Robinson reacts harshly (even if justified) it feeds the stereotype and the stereotype continues.

There was a defining scene in the movie when the opposing team’s manager is yelling crude remarks at Robinson while he is at bat. Robinson gets so mad that he walks off the field, away from the public eye, into the tunnel and repeatedly hits his bat against the wall. As he slumps to the floor of the tunnel, the tears and sobs begin. It was the moment everything changed. Aaron had made a choice and he was reaping the terrible but temporary consequences of his wise and humbling decision. Instead of retaliating with what would have been justifiable anger, he swallowed his pride and his anger for a bigger purpose.

Here is why that is important. If just once Robinson shouts back…just one violent reaction and the whole thing is blown. Once he acts violently, even justifiably, he fits the stereotype. When that happens, the stereotype is allowed to continue…even increase. But, if Robinson is respectful. If he is kind. If he ignores it and plays the game the best he can, like the bat he beat against the wall, the power of the stereotype is shattered.

Once he endures and doesn’t retaliate, Robinson becomes the victim which then allows the crowd to see him as something deeper than a victim…they start to see him as human. The insults no longer make sense. The booing just doesn’t seem to fit, much less feel right. People start seeing the injustice for what it really is and they became empathetic. Empathy has a way of shattering stereotypes because it is hard to hold empathy and a competing stereotype in your head and in your heart at the same time. One has to go. Thanks to Jackie Robinson for keeping his integrity, doing the tough thing, and helping to change a nation.

If you haven’t seen the movie, you should watch it. I also want to point you to two posts that you should read that are related to this. The first is by Jonathan Storment: Good and Evil: Let the Blames Begin. The second is by Richard Beck: Theology and Peace: Why Scapegoating is Like Axe Body Spray.

Kingdom Living Hearts the Beijing Olympics

In dedication to the 8.8.08 Olympics this post marks the 800th here at Kingdom Living. I cannot wait to see the opening ceremony and especially the track and field competition. When I ran track in college my goal was always to beat the Olympic women’s times. I almost always did…for whatever that is worth.

Do Any of You Play Disc Golf?

One of my very favorite things to do on my day off (when it really is a day
off) is to play a sport called disc golf. Sometimes people call it “frisbee golf” but that doesn’t really do it justice. You aren’t just throwing some flimsy “Wham-O” piece of plastic. You are throwing state-of-the-art discs that have the potential of going well over 500 feet. The object is to throw from a tee pad down the fairway toward a steel basket. Everything is a par three. Basically all the rules and much of the terminology of golf applies. Because you are throwing a disc rather than hitting a ball there are a few other terms that apply that are not used in golf like “hyzer” and “anhyzer” and a few others.

Disc golf is a real official sport. There are even professionals and world championships. The 12 time world champion Ken Climo lives in my county here in Florida. I had the privilege to watch him play a few months ago. I digress. It is a blast. If you are wondering if there are any courses near you have a look at the professional disc golf association home page (PDGA). Now go get yourself some discs off ebay and have yourself some fun! If you want to learn more about technique, which discs are the best, etc see Discgolfreview.com. If you have any questions feel free to ask me through the email link at the upper left hand corner of this blog.

Fantasy Football, Adrian Peterson, and an NFL Record for Rushing Yards per Game

I must say that I am bit surprised. I logged in to see how my fantasy football team was doing and saw that Adrian Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings, singlehandedly dismantled my team by rushing for 296 and 3 touchdowns! That translates into 56 fantasy football points making it nearly impossible for my team, the “Pancreas Crushers“, to make much of a comeback this week. That is a new NFL record. I was highly disappointed as four weeks ago I was in next to last and a win this week would have put me in first. Adrian Peterson, if you are reading this…you have crushed my Pancreas! Owwwww!

You can see how amazing his performance was right here at nfl.com.

(Thanks to wikipedia for the Pancreas picture.)

Trinity Tigers defeat Milsaps Majors using 15 laterals

In case you haven’t seen this yet, here it is. I hate to give things away from the start but the offense creatively uses the lateral to pull off a 65 yard, 1 minute+ play to continue their fight toward the SCAC title