How do we mark the passing of time?

By Josh Schatzle

Carbondale resident

My mother-in-law recently asked my father-in-law what his favorite season of the year was. “Basketball,” he replied. He was serious; it didn’t occur to him she could have meant anything else. At first I found it funny, then a bit embarrassing. I would have likely answered the same way, and I was worried about what it said about me, about us, about men.

Are we really the simple-minded Neanderthals the Bud Light ads make us out to be, consumed with sports and women?  But then it occurred to me that there might be more to my father-in-law’s answer than first meets the eye. Why did he instinctively order the calendar year around sports and not the weather?  And then it occurred to me that there was something sacred about sports, particularly in a climate such as ours, where even the weather is politicized. Had the world of sports become a safe-haven for the world, a sanctuary free from the intrusive, dehumanizing and relentless forces of politicization?

We owe much of our current political climate to Karl Marx and his ilk. Before their politics, people lived, loved, defended their homes — and family worked and played, largely free from the tags of suspicious labels and –isms, and the subsequent self-consciousness that inevitably follows.

Marx was only able to interpret the world through the lens of power. Power itself wasn’t the problem; the problem was that power was a prisoner to the primitive institutions of the family and religion, and unavailable to the “collective humanity”. For the sake of the “greater good,” that power would have to be released, and that would have to come voluntarily. Human beings would have to come to distrust themselves with the power they possessed by virtue of their nature.

Marx saw that this would require a fundamental change in the way human kind thought of itself.  Where once humans would have thought it good, natural, and right to pursue their own good, now they would have to see that their pursuit of good necessarily meant someone else’s loss. They must see themselves as “a problem to be managed” — like vermin. Humans would have to question not only their very existence, but even their right to exist at all.  In other words, it would require humans to abandon the very things that make them human. What the world required was a new humility.

G.K. Chesterton had this to say about this new politic, in “Orthodoxy:” “The old humility was a spur that prevented a man from stopping; not a nail in is boot that prevented him from going on.  The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder.  But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether.”

In his zeal for the common good of humanity, Marx took it legs out from underneath it, deconstructing human being to the core.

Of course, this is all just my opinion. But it’s an opinion the sports world recently affirmed. A couple of weeks ago, Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen received a five-game suspension from team ownership for remarks he made to “Time magazine praising Fidel Castro, saying he “really loved and admired him for his ability to remain in power as long as he had.”  He upset not just Miami— a city populated by many who fled the brutal Marxist regime on makeshift floating devices — but much of the nation, who seemed to be saying: “We respect your right to a political opinion, it’s just not welcome on the field of play.”

The sports world has come to see itself as a sanctuary in a world increasingly vulnerable to the dehumanizing Marxist virus, preserving a playing field where the most basic elements of human being, namely the instinct for achievement and significance, are protected and allowed to thrive. Here, there are –isms and labels; all that matters, inside the lines, is whether one can play the game.

And as I thought this week about Ozzie and Castro and Marx, it occurred to me that maybe the lines of a field serve more than declaring foul from fair. Perhaps Providence is at work, drawing lines around at least one arena in life where the dehumanizing forces of politics would be relegated to the sidelines, and the beauty of the game, which is really to say the beauty of humankind, is preserved and protected.  And I smiled to myself at this thought, thinking that my father-in-law was on to something, maybe even something worthy of marking the seasons by.

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