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It Cannot be Seen Until it is Believed

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By Dr. Rodney J. Blackman |

In sports, and in life, we have a generally well-conceived idea for what it means to be a “good sport.” Or, what it means to be a “good person,” or a “good guy.” Similarly, we understand what it takes to be a “bad guy,” or a “dirty player.” The good guys and the bad guys are like, the center of the story – the main characters. They are the stars of our stories.

As the most entertained generation ever, millennials are, it’s safe to say, waaaaay into stories. And y’know – it’s not wicked tricky – they grew up being entertained in order to be pacified, and then their love of stories just followed naturally. To be fair, and not surprisingly, societal demands for stories have enchanted generations past. In the days to come, and for future generations, more likely than not, they will also greatly enjoy stories. Most times, the stories don’t even have to be good stories. They can be just mediocre, but as stories, still they entertain nevertheless.

Beyond the mediocre – stories are made better when there are heroes and heroines. The construct of our heroes and heroines, while manifest different generationally, is still fundamentally the same – with a need for just three character ingredients. To be sure, our heroes and heroines have more than just three qualities, but – in order to be heroes and heroines, they must have, at the least, these three characteristics:

1) To do justly [justice is paramount to every generation], 2) And to love mercy [for heroes and heroines to love mercy means that they recognize their own fallibility, and we love them for that], and 3) To walk humbly [real heroes and heroines must understand {and practice that understanding of} the difference between confidence and arrogance].

We see this in sports every day now.

These three characteristics are what we look for in our sports heroes – so much so that we even start to put our faith in our sports heroes. On faith – we will be coming back to revisit that, in just a moment. Before we get to that – in review, our heroes and heroines, among all their other endearing qualities, must have – these three things:  to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.

Back on faith, for just a moment – what is the one thing that must exist in order for faith to exist. Faith must encounter this in order to be faith…

Aye – there I go, makin’ it easy, huh. In order for faith to exist we must also have – doubt.

Faith needs a doubt. More than something to believe in, faith needs a doubt. If there were no doubt, there would be no faith. Keep that in mind, and we’ll revisit it again a little later on…as for heroes and heroines…

In the same way that faith needs a doubt, our heroes and heroines must also have one other thing –

A villain. Yep. The bad guy, or bad guys.

Chillin’ like a villain.

To present the opposing force, villains may be, and usually are, personified in some manner. While in stories there are sometimes also circumstances that can certainly be as daunting as a villain, these circumstances are usually represented by some villainous character. And, in order for heroes and heroines to be such, they must overcome. Overcoming, as we know, is accomplished by doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly.

The who, or what must be overcome – it is the villain! Or villains! That which represents villainy! Of the villain – the vilified!  To defeat or turn away the villain – these are heroic feats! The hero or heroine vanquishes the villain! That rascal! These make the epic moments! These are the greatest of stories…

This, too, we see in life, and in sports, every day.

Now, the thing about heroes and heroines – the thing which we identify with most perhaps, is that they were not always heroes or heroines. There was some manner of ascension to that status. What is typically required of that ascension is –

Loss.

To get to the epic moments in a great story, there has to be some measure of having been defeated in some past challenge, or in some manner, turned away. To have experienced loss, to come to know the meaning and feeling of defeat, this is necessary, in order to relish the prevail. Heroes and heroines aren’t heroic without a grasp of the magnitude of their victory. Which brings us back to our hero recipe:

To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. And, the hero must have learned from loss – to develop the constitution necessary to face new challenges on some other day. And, the perspective necessary to remain humble in victory.

Only after having learned from past setbacks, can our heroes and heroines prevail – knowing loss, they can vanquish the villain! – can outduel the rascal!

Whew! And that’s all just the introduction!!!

On fleek!

We see this in sports, and in life, every day.

Wait – wait – wait. What in the world does that “On fleek” mean?

Whoa! I know. First time I heard that I said, huh!!??!!

It was then explained to me {by a smirking kiddo several years younger than me}…

“On fleek” means “on point,” or “exactly correct,” or “spot-on,” and so on…

As “hip’ terms go, it actually may already be on the outs. Old news. Has been.

Yikes! Really?

Yep.

Ok, so where is this all going, now that we’re past the introduction??

Two places:

Back to faith. And… The Kool-Aid Stand.

First, on Kool-Aid – I have recently been involved in a research project where this idea of Kool-Aid came up, independently, for two different people being studied. Both would be considered highly successful by virtually any measure, and both were referencing Kool-Aid in the same interesting way…

To briefly summarize, their references to Kool-Aid had to do with a person asking themselves if they were getting too caught up in their own success story. Were they believing the hype? The buzz – what everyone else was saying about them – is it true? These subjects were putting themselves under the greatest scrutiny – their own eyes – to find out if they were getting ahead of themselves. Put another way, from another generation, the reference was about a person checking themselves to make sure they had not become “too big for their britches.” In these modern self-inquiries, it came out like this: “Am I drinking my own Kool-Aid here?”

Being the hero can have a short life-span. Those interested in extending the life-span of their heroism are quick to check to ensure that they remain grounded. Not believing the hype. Not being too big for their britches. Not drinking their own Kool-Aid.

Because, this also is true about heroism: As soon as you think you got it, that you’ve made it, that you are everything you’ve been hyped up to be – as soon as you believe the hypeyou will be taking a tumble.

This is absolutely true – and you know it.

On Fleek!

We see this in sports, and in life, every day.

So is there a better way to handle the hype? To keep from drinking your own Kool-Aid?

Yes!

If you listen you can hear the silence say, “When you think you’re done – you’ve just begun!”

To do justly. And to love mercy. And to walk humbly. When you think you’re done, you’ve just begun…

Keys to making life go right, yeah? Not just a commercial. Straight truth!

And now, the other place I was going – I promised to come back to faith.

Well, here it is: Every day, you are constantly putting your faith in things – in tools, in treasures, in mechanisms, in systems, in stuff, and on and on, but especially, in people – even people you don’t know, you’ve never spoken with them, ever – yet you trust them with your life!! Every day – you put your life in the hands of strangers!!

If you drive to work, or school, you do. Or ride the train. Or the tram. Or the subway…

And that’s not all! Every day, you have faith that people will do their jobs, so that you can experience the uninterrupted carrying-on of your day.

It is true. We put our faith in many, many things, every single day. But, if you are thinking, like, Big F-Faith – I can certainly understand that – and I appreciate you thinking that way.

As heroism goes – the same concepts still apply. Faith needs a doubt. The opposite of faith is not doubt, it is reason. There are times when we must reason, and do what is reasonable. However, more often than not, that which separates us from experiencing greatness, or heroism, cannot be seen – until it is believed!

That, my lovelies, is faith. Not quite Big F-Faith. But faith, still the same. As for Big F-Faith. You get the answer to that one when you ask yourself the question, “Who is the Pioneer of Faith?”

What also seems apparent is that there are the elements of heroism in all of us. But, as we’ve discovered, becoming a hero or heroine is a process. And then there’s this here little catch – if you’re trying to be a hero all the time, or even one time, it will not happen for you. The secret to heroism is in the last ingredient – to walk humbly.

To walk humbly means that a person has a perfect understanding of their position in this life – their place on the planet – their purpose for putting along. It is the folks who understand this who become heroes and heroines, because they also understand that heroism is a process – that there is a little something hero in all of us – and sooner or later, they just might need the hero of someone else, to get them through a tight spot.

And then there’s just one more thing…

Heroes and heroines have good days, because of all that it takes to have a good day.

Someone once told me that all that it takes to have a good day is – a little something to look forward to. Aye! And I thought, well what do you call that?

Hope.

On Fleek!

That’s the other thing that heroes and heroines have –

Hope.

We see this in sports, and in life, every single day.

Sources:

Hewson, P., Evans, D. Mullen, L. and Clayton, A. (2017). U2: Songs of experience. Santa Monica, CA: Interscope – Island.

This posting is dedicated to Hope Lloyd, and Maddie Lloyd, and their parents, JR and Annabelle Lloyd – for the heroes in each of them.

Dr. Rodney J. Blackman is the Chair of Recreation Management at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at rblackman@ussa.edu.

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