Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Eagle Has Landed






"Where is the ball?" 

"It's on the ground."
"How much time is on the clock?"
" Zeros"
" Oh my god we did it. "

Essentially these were the words uttered by millions of Eagles fans throughout the Delaware Valley as an epic Super Bowl reached a triumphant conclusion for the hometown Philadelphia Eagles.

  In a blink of an eye a loyal fan base was rewarded for a lifetime of faith in a team that last won 57 years ago against a Vince Lombardi coached Green Bay Packers team.  Just like that they joined an elite fraternity of teams that call themselves Super Bowl Champions.  

As I sat and stood in my living room for over four hours with my wife and two sons I thought about all of the years of consistent support for the men who have adorned the Green and White over the last 39 years. 

 I thought about my late grandfather watching faithfully from his recliner, wearing his wool Eagles hat, cheering at times and swearing at times, depending on the success or failure of each play.  My grandmother was always by his side. A win today would be for them.

I thought about my uncle Freck in his 80's now who spent all those seasons at the Vet. Oh , the great stories he would tell about tailgates, 700 level brawls and seasons that featured both success and failure. He was there in 80 in New Orleans, the first time. A win today would be for him.

I thought about my late father in law Pete who joined me in the living room and at the stadium, as we experienced our share of agony and joy rooting for our beloved Eagles year after year. The brass ring always eluding us. A win today would be for him.

I thought about the Johnson's and our years of faithful support. I thought about how we passed our passion to our children. I thought about eating roast beef and meatball sandwiches and cheering on our Eagles. I thought about gut wrenching losses and epic wins. I thought about Scott and Susan, Jennifer and I watching our families grow up as each season passed and how we were yet to experience a Super Bowl win together. I thought about all of the games with just my son Peter and I and how much of a bond we had forged. I thought about how much of a diehard Philly fan he has become and how much it all would mean to him. I thought about how much Scott had taken a recent rooting interest and that made it all the more special. Today would be for us and our children.

I saw my family in front of me, Peter and Scott and Jennifer as we inched closer to the games conclusion. The possibility of a Super Bowl championship was moving closer to reality, with each possession, each score. I was up on my feet, back in the chair. I couldn't eat. Could this be the day? We lost the lead, deflation, we regained it, jubilation. Surrounded by my family, this was how it was supposed to be.

Precious ticks remained, the ball was in the air, then on the ground. The clock showed zeros. Victory in the Super Bowl was ours.  The Eagle that had flown for years had finally landed, delivering the end to years of suffering and a dream fulfilled.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Question of Hate

Throughout history, artists have been commissioned to sculpt statues to show reverence to mythical Gods or impactful humans who have dramatically influenced the course of history.  In ancient Greece  the gods Zeus or Poseidon were believed to have exerted  power and influence over ancient Greek society. Thus artists sought to immortalize them via the construction of a sculpture or statue.  The Egyptians in an effort to commemorate the power of the great Pharaohs constructed incredible monuments. This practice of sculpture construction is a practice that dates back thousands of years. However there is another practice that has gained momentum as of late called "sculpture dismantling" that dates back to the ancient world as well.  Recent scholarship has indicated that much had been done to erase the female Pharaoh, Queen Hatshepsut from ancient Egyptian history, by those that reigned after her. Statues and other artifacts connected to Hatshepsut and her legacy were destroyed as a result of their efforts.  Why? Because history is written by the winners and those that reigned after Hatshepsut allegedly wanted her legacy erased because she was a female. 1

Two weekends ago a White Supremacist Rally was held in Charlottesville, Virginia, under the guise that they were to there toprotest the removal of a statue of Civil War general, Robert E. Lee.  The rally was met by an intense resistance and eventually violence erupted. Horrifically, multiple people lost their lives that day. Let's be clear , the possible removal of the statue did not fuel the hatred of the Neo-Nazi  or White Supremacist factions attending the rally that day. Hatred was the culprit. The opportunity to move forward an agenda of hate was the reason for the rally and the violence that ensued was a vehicle used  by the protesters to act upon their hate. This hatred towards other races and religions is a major part of the White Supremacist culture which has lived and been perpetuated for centuries in our great nation. Crimes have been inflicted upon humanity and gone unpunished  at the hands of these " hate groups".  As a nation we need to move forward a stronger series of political reforms.  These reforms need to be designed to eliminate crimes against humanity which are motivated by hatred and violence, with more vigorous prosecution for those responsible.

Tearing down statues is not the answer to removing hate from our nation.  We need to pump the brakes and be reflective about what we are really trying to accomplish. Statues in America have long been built in remembrance of military leaders, social activists or political figures who have accomplished something of significance.  The judgment of their legacy and impact is up to those that they leave behind. The opinion whether favorable of unfavorable may even change from time to time. People that make history usually are polarizing figures that cause a measure of discord, but discord is a fundamental and necessary part of our democracy. Removing or destroying a statue does not make that figure any less polarizing; only time can accomplish that.

Statues are constructed in the United States to serve as reminders of people and their actions that have changed our nation for better or worse. Unfortunately these actions at times unquestionably changed our nation for the worse. Especially glaring are those of the Civil War era and the issues that those fighting the Civil War sought to resolve.  The consequences of the resolution should not include the  erasing of history through statue removal or dismantling, because the winners get the final say. Rather, the answer is to educate our culture about the issues that led to conflict and their resolution. Then we need to examine the "question of hate" and act upon eliminating it wherever and whenever possible.

1. American History Encylopedia,  Hatshepsut Joshua J. Mark   October 19, 2016

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dreams





For most baseball fans, baseball is the game of our youth. Many of us dream of playing Major League Baseball. The reality though is that only the few and very fortunate are blessed with the opportunity to walk across the white lines of major league diamonds and engage in careers as major league baseball players.  My sons' Peter, Scott and I all put our formal association with Little League Baseball in the rearview mirror quite a few years ago.  However, every August we renew our passion for the game, closely following the Little League World Series.  Each year we are delighted for two weeks by the amazing stories surrounding the players and their teams, as well as the action on the field.

Over the years we have become familier with just how special a place Williamsport is, watching players from all teams interact off the field, enjoying amusement, fare and experiences designed to make them feel like royalty.  This year, things have been taken up a notch with the development of the Little League Classic.  On Sunday of week one, players from the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates arrived on site to watch Little League teams from around the world engage in this years tournament. In addition to taking in the games major league players and litttle league players had the oppurtunity to engage in conversation, as well as play ping pong, or just spend quality time with each other. Not only was it special for this years particiants, but also for many of the major league players as well, having previously played there as Litttle Leaguers.  You could'nt construct a dream any better.

The dream does'nt conclude though with the end of the days action at Williamsport.  After the final game ends, all of the players from all the little leagues represented, board busses and head to Bowman Field, the second oldest minor league ball park in the nation. (capacity 2,500)  Once they arrive the players will be treated to a major league baseball game featuring the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The entire stadium witll be sold out with essentially an audience of Little League baseball players. Keep in mind that many of these players will be seeing their first major league game. Hopefully the game will be as much of a classic as the rest of the day.

Espn, MLB and Little League baseball executives all deserve congratuations for organizing a day that brought together little league baseball players and their major league heroes.  In doing so they ultimately created an experience that most adolescent baseball fans could only dream about.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Upon Further Reflection

Reflection enables me to be better in all facets of my life that require my attention and that I choose to maintain effectively. This became clear to me long ago and thus it it is a practice that I engage in willingly. Personal and professional growth continues to be achieved because I realize the true value of these practices. Although growth is one of the desired outcomes that is attained from reflection, there are outcomes that sometimes result in emotional struggles. While  honest reflection reveals strengths it also reveals mistakes, flaws and shortcomings. These can be challenging to face and lead to a reluctance to engage in the process at times. Sometimes I just wish that I was flawless in a particular situation or performance and reflection was unnecessary.

My experiences have taught me that like an onion their are many layers to peel back when engaging in the reflective process.

Layer 1: I must assess  the performance or issue through an objective lens, staying void of emotion as I examine the issue and my role or performance within it. What were my strengths? Where could I improve? What other factors were relevant in terms of how they impacted the issue or experience?

Layer 2: I must ask myself if my assessment is truly an honest one? If it isn't what is preventing me from making an honest assessment? Are my emotions clouding the process? Sometimes I may need the help of others.

Layer 3: I need to sit down with someone that I trust and honestly share the issue or experience with them and then openly listen to their feedback. Remembering that if it is someone I truly trust they will give me honest, objective feedback.

Layer 4: Apply all that I have learned about myself  from the current situation, to future situations. Keeping  in mind that I can always improve and others will benefit from those improvements as well.

Reflection is a complex at times painstaking process, but it is a skill that has great value. This particular skill allows citizens within global societies to move forward if they are courageous enough to engage in its practices and embrace the remedies that it reveals. This skill is one that must be taught to our children at a young age in order for them to recognize personal imperfections and failures. We must then use reflection as a tool to enable them to first accept failures and then to grow from them.  When we have done this we put them in a position of readiness to accept the challenges that await them in their future.

I am a better person today because of my ability to be reflective, but that's not to say that I wouldn't be just a little bit happier, if only I did it right the first time, most of the time.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ten Reasons to be Happy that its the Opening Day of Baseball Season

1. At the start of the first day, your team is at least tied for first place in the division. 

 2. There are still 161 games full of possibility and remarkability yet to be played.

 3. More than likely you won't have to shovel any more snow in the near future.

 4. A boat load of new prospects made it to the show and it will be fun watching them impact the game.

 5. A healthy dose of "web gems" each and every night begins immediately. 

 6. Having the opportunity to learn about the game from the great story tellers of the game for the next six months. 

 7. The renewal of the daily box score checking ritual.

 8. The chance that someone soon will pitch a no hitter or a perfect game. 

 9. Being able to sit outside in the fresh air with family and friends, soaking in the sights, sounds and smells of the ballpark.

 10. Knowing that weather or not the post season is a realistic possibility, the season will contain plenty of special moments, for your team.