Friday, December 14, 2007

Who's on?

This week I found myself in San Francisco having great coffee shop conversation with a thoughtful friend. I'll call him Mike.

Mike said, “The way of religions to try to motivate with fear just doesn’t appeal to me.”

“I feel the same way. But here’s a problem: people are mostly motivated by fear.”

Mike looked at me skeptically, so I gave evidence: “Take drivers, for example. How many people obey the speed limit because they want to be safe drivers versus avoiding a ticket?”

He admitted that I had a good point. People tend to change their behavior out of fear more than the desire to do what is right. There are countless examples of this.

But then we’re stuck with that aversion we have to scare-tactics.

“Fortunately, Mike,” I offered, "There is third way. The Hebrew word that is usually translated as ‘fear’, as in ‘fear of Heaven’, really doesn’t mean fear. It means awe. Awe means that I recognize that I am not the be-all and end-all of existence, that there is something much bigger than me, and that my actions and choices do have consequences.”

Mike’s face lit up, almost like a light bulb turning on. “That could work for me."

“Now, let’s think for a minute. Where does awe come from?”

“Well, it can come from observing something really big and powerful, like a thunderstorm. Or from observing a person who is really powerful at something they do, like a professional athlete or musician.”

“How about learning about how the human body works, it’s incredible! Or simply contemplating the fact that I’m sitting here contemplating...!”

Question for your table: Is this week’s baseball-on-steroids story good news or bad news?

Wait, before you answer that, let’s try to put this in perspective....

Baseball is a game.
Baseball is a business.
Baseball is not a religion (although for many it is spiritual)
Baseball is not helping solve problems like war and global warming and cancer.

Oh, by the way, today, Google found
- over 17,000 news articles on steroids in baseball
- about 7,000 articles refer to a player or players who deny their guilt
- Only find a handful of players who admitted their guilt or apologized

At the end of the day, is it true that how you play the game is more important than winning or losing? What if you own the team?

Would it be possible to change the scoring of sports to give a team extra points for playing fair, instead of penalties for playing unfair?

Too many questions, too many questions. Are we moving toward or way from a more truthful culture of love and awe?

Here’s my contribution to the effort, sharing with you something that simultaneously inspires both love and awe, and it’s about baseball:

Shabbat Shalom

PS – to hear my Tuesday night class on “the Secret of the 36”, click here.

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