Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Watching the Super Bowl

Have you ever watched a sporting contest in which you have no vested interest in either of the teams? I'm not talking about doing the impossible, like supporting the New England Patriots, but a game involving two teams in whom you have no emotional attachment - for or against. People who watch such a game watch because they appreciate the game itself. They don't need an emotional investment to appreciate the details of the contest. They may very well have a home team they wish was playing in the game, but the fact that they aren't doesn't stop them from enjoying the contest. These people appreciate the good plays and the talents of the players - which team they play for is a secondary concern. They may wonder why their team let one of the players they are watching do very well get away, but those questions don't prevent them from enjoying the contest. These fans enjoy the sport as much as they enjoy local team. They are criticized as disloyal or as wasting their time by the folks I am about to describe below, but that criticism isn't accurate.

Other people are only interested in the home team, so much so that if the home team isn't playing they don't watch. Whether it's the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, the World Series, or the NBA playoffs, once their team is out, so are they. Of course, this means they may never watch the penultimate contest in any sport. They may never get to witness the most talented players competing against one another, because they are only interested in the local team. These are tribal sports fans, and there isn't anything wrong with being a tribal fan except that it is quite limiting. Imagine voluntarily never watching the best of the best, simply because you live in a city in which they don't play. Imagine if people brought that attitude to health care!

What does all of this have to do with spirituality? It has quite a lot to do with spirituality! The second group of folks are extremely loyal followers of their own tradition. Perhaps they were born Lutheran and so they truly believe that only Lutherans have anything to teach them. They don't want to hear what Methodists have to say, and they sure don't want to know what Buddhists have to say. In their extreme form, these people even seek to silence all other traditions. They are the people who believe that "America is a Christian nation!" kind of nonsense, and seek to outlaw or restrict other traditions.

The first group are Interspiritual. They have a solid grounding in their own tradition, but have also come to see that other traditions also have truths to offer. They aren't blinded by loyalty to the "home team," but can appreciate the search for truth and meaning wherever it exists. They don't see their own path as better than any other path, but they do find it to be richer. They also understand that not everyone is ready to tackle the questions and challenges of Interspirituality, and recognize that some will never be interested in it. That is as it should be because different people will inevitably be drawn to different paths. They also know that others will criticize them as somehow disloyal or as seeking an easy path. They strive to recognize such criticism as irrelevant, and have compassion on those who feel moved to speak it.

Imagine what might happen if we all just followed the tradition or traditions that spoke to us and allowed others to do the same? Imagine if we all matured to the point where we could allow others to follow their own conscience as we followed ours, and let each person accept responsibility for their own outcome? How many wars could be avoided, how much hatred, how much persecution, and how many seemingly isolated acts of violence could be stopped before they began? There is no downside to this view, unless of course you are in the business of perpetuating your source of truth at the expense of all others. The question one must ask then is, what sort of divinity would espouse such a narrow position?