We’ve Got a Long, Long Way to Go, Baby!

IMG_1047Made it back from Houston, where I got to watch my beloved Reds take the Astros into extra innings in both games I was there for. The atmosphere was nice, the stadium is still one of the nicest places to watch a ball game I have ever been to…and surprisingly, the people were quite cordial. Unlike St. Louis or even here in Dallas (Texas Rangers country), where I get assailed for wearing my team’s “colors” (Reds branded t-shirts and my only Reds jersey). I just don’t understand that mentality. Visiting fans are doing more than just supporting their team, they are buying tickets at your stadium, they are buying the food at your vendors, they are most likely staying at hotels in your local area. Why treat them like shit, just because they travel to support their team on the road? I understand being a fan, but I certainly don’t get why folks have to be assholes about being homers.

But then, on the way back home, I stopped at two different Buccee’s. For those that might not know, this is like the WalMart of gas stations. Lots and lots of stuff to buy. Food, drinks, souvenirs. Many, many gas pumps. And everyone rolls through the place like there is a riot in progress. I would never have guessed that a gas station could bring out the asshole in people so quickly. I like the variety of the products in the store, Nine Hells – I can even get a slurpee whenever I want, and there’s FOUR machines rolling at any given time!

Let’s not get started on the way politics has literally turned people into Trumps…err…assholes, even towards their friends and fellow neighbors.

I have harped on this before. On July 5, 2015, at the final show for the Fare Thee Well concerts, Mickey Hart of Dead & Company made a statement that has literally become my battle-cry towards the world around me:

The feeling we have here — remember it, take it home and do some good with it. I’ll leave you with this: Please, be kind.

I grew up always being asked to put myself into the shoes of the individual I was thinking of at that moment. Trying to remember that anyone you are about to judge in your thoughts has feelings too. That they can be hurt internally by what you say/don’t say, by what you do or don’t do, by how you react or don’t react. That every single time we say, do, or react to something – there can be a powerful negative or positive repercussion to the individual. I am not saying that you hold back your statements to people when they are doing something wrong. But sometimes, its the force by which you react that takes your perspective and magnifies it.

Every Astros fan I ran into where fans of their team. But nearly every one of them wished my team luck in the game. Remember, my team is playing theirs. And here they are wishing my team luck in the game against theirs. Surely, they wanted to see the Astros beat the pants off the Reds. Probably just as bad as I wanted the Reds to win. That’s called being “classy” and having “sportsmanship” – something I cannot say for the two games I attended in St. Louis, nor for the twenty-plus games I have attended here to watch the Rangers.

But what about the Buccee’s crowd? Well, I chalk that one up to rampant consumerism, coupled with a lack of respect towards one’s fellow human beings when greed sets in. I went in to use the bathroom, and purchase a Slurpee and a packet of beef jerky. Somehow, I believe that one doesn’t have to be jostled, bumped into purposefully, or forced to walk into a display case to avoid running into someone yakking on a cell phone…especially not in a mega-gas station. And yet, each of the three times I have been in one of these behemoth gas stations, the crowds inside the store (not to mention the idiots pulling into and out of the gas pump lanes) are hardly cognizant of anything beyond their personal two-foot area of circumference.

::sigh:: I have a hope for human society. One where other people are respected for being who they are:  other human beings. Where people don’t have to hide their religious beliefs, their affections for their own loved ones. A world where people can respect and tolerate those that are dissimilar from themselves. And I have to wonder – how do we get there, when people can’t see two feet beyond their personal space in a gas station? Or can’t set aside the overt worship of a sporting team to be welcoming to other people visiting their city?

virginia_slims_01The old Virigina Slims cigarette ads had a saying attached to them: “You’ve come a long way, Baby!” It was aimed directly at women who had started to find their feet and stand up for their rights in this society. Perhaps I can make an ad for all of human society:  “We’ve got a long, long way to go, Baby!”

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