My (Not Scary) Online ManifestoPosted: February 22, 2013
It seems fashionable, in these trying times, to publish a manifesto online. While it is true that most of these documents come to our attention when their author goes around the bend, I don’t think anti-social behavior is a pre-requisite for a person to publish their “intentions, motives or views”.
So many of my fellow manifesto authors have given our form of literature a bad name. Their ramblings about people and institutions who have wronged them do not play well to a mass audience. I have no such grievances. I am pretty well treated. Most institutions never get around to hassling me because they don’t know I exist.
There is not a lot of sense in waiting until the last bit of my life, or until I am a raving madman, to get my manifesto out. I am so committed to not waiting that the last sentence actually contains intent, motivation and my view. Thus, my explanation of what I’m doing here is also the first sentence of my manifesto.
Maybe I’ll write a longer manifesto one day, but here’s what I think now, a little of why I think it, and what I’m going to do about it.
Stand Tall, Like Pee Wee
Though I have no major grievances, you’d think I really was a raving madman if I said things were perfect. I do have a gripe with some people. There’s no place for intolerance and meanness in the world. Neither of those things are in short supply, and we have enough souls who are willing to inflict them on others.
The finest weapons against intolerance and meanness are tolerance and kindness. I gain nothing by shouting down the small-minded. A quiet victory over that sort is the best kind.
Baseball aficionados remember Pee Wee Reese as a shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers and as a broadcaster after he left the game. What a lot of people don’t remember is Reese’s quiet, courageous gesture toward Jackie Robinson, the first black player in major league baseball.
Robinson was taking a lot of verbal abuse from fans at a game in Cincinnati. Reese, a highly respected white player, ended the heckling by walking over, putting his arm around his teammate and having a chat with him.
No confrontation. No shouting. Reese was quiet and brave. I can do that.
Try To Make Things Right, Even When I Didn’t Intend to Make Them Wrong
I am let down by others. I let others down. It doesn’t happen on purpose. But I should try to make things right, on purpose, when I can. Making things right often doesn’t require much. An effort or a gesture is often enough.
2001 was the last year that Cal Ripken Jr. played Major League Baseball. When he and the Orioles went to Atlanta, I took my then 9-year-old son to watch Cal play. There was an audible groan in the stadium when the starting lineups were announced and Tony Batista was at third base. I’m sure no one had an ax to grind with Mr. Batista, but he wasn’t what sold tickets that night.
The game went on, Ripkenless, until the top of the 8th inning. Cal came to the plate as a late inning pinch hitter and hit a 3-1 pitch down the left field line for a stand up double, then left the game. He wasn’t on the field long, but the effort made a big difference to a 9-year-old and his dad.
I need to get up and swing the bat, even if I don’t feel like doing it. People are counting on me.
Do Things That Make Me Smile
When I was little, I loved baseball. I’d play it all day, all summer, until my mother called me home for dinner. Sometimes I’d go play after dinner, then explain why I was home after dark by arguing that the sun was brighter where I was playing. I know that sounds like a lie, but if you went to my old neighborhood you’d be able to see that the yard where we played ball is more elevated than where my family lived. Thus, that yard got more sunlight. Yes, it is only three blocks away. Don’t hang me up in details.
I loved baseball, even though I was never good at it. I love baseball, even though I never will be good at it. I’ve missed a lot of games over the past few years. I’m ashamed to say I missed a lot of those games through no one’s fault but my own.
Spring training is on. Baseball will be back in town in just over a month. I intend to watch a lot of baseball, because I still love it.
Intention. Motivation. Views. They aren’t so scary.
- Photos: Dodger Jackie Robinson Would Have Turned 94 Today (photos.mercurynews.com)