Saturday, June 19, 2010

Arrogance in Humility's Jean Jacket

Capital punishment is the only issue on which I sometimes find myself not agreeing with others on the far, far left. My feeling is that some crimes are so monstrous as to render unthinkable their perpetrators ever enjoying another moment’s pleasure, of which there’s a small chance even in solitary confinement, even in the most unspeakable prison. But I’m aware that sometimes the innocent are convicted, and I would sooner live in a society that errs on the side of executing no innocents.
I’m also all for gun control.

Having said all that, I must confess that there is a situation in modern American life I believe warrants the presence of snipers licensed to kill. I speak, of course, of the athlete who, after doing something terrific — think of Clint Dempsey’s extremely dodgy (because of the England goalkeeper’s sudden spasm of incompetence) World Cup goal — points up at the heavens as though to say, “Thank you, God. Couldn’t have done it without you, big guy.”

I believe that athletes who think God has the slightest interest in whether or not they score a goal should be forbidden to operate motor vehicles or other heavy machinery, or even to reproduce.

I understand the gesture is supposed to be seen as one of humility, one of acknowledging A Higher Power. In my old age, I’ve come to think it imperative to make such an acknowledgment. I address God every night; offering thanks for my many blessings and asking forgiveness for my many failings keeps me aware of both. But I strongly believe that this should be done in private.

My objection to the athlete pointing heavenward isn’t the acknowledgment of God, then, but that it’s inconceivable arrogance masquerading as humility — Look what God and I achieved together! Moreover, in a great many cases, I think the gesture is intended in large part for prospective corporate tenderers of endorsement deals — for Nike, and Gatorade, and Ford. Look how humble and pious I am; my endorsement will boost your sales in the Bible Belt.

Fire when ready, snipers!

[Many of my books are now available for download from Amazon. They include The Total Babe & Other Wine Country Yarns, Lentils on the Moon (aka A Message From Jesus in Braille, aka A History of the Jews in the Hudson Valley), Self-Loathing: An Owner's Manual, Third World USA, The Mona Lisa's Brother, and, for baseball nuts, Foul Balls and Alpha Males. You need neither a Kindle nor an iPad to enjoy 'em; simply download (free) Kindle software for either Mac or Windows, and enjoy them on your laptop or other computer!]

1 comment:

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