Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#204 - Walk a Mile

"Hey, before you abuse, criticize, and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes." - Joe South

In the aftermath of what some have called one of the worst played and most boring Super Bowls ever, I have read with interest and a touch of dismay the steady torrent of criticism and abuse leveled at Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. I have a very slight vested interest because my wife went to Auburn and has converted me into an Auburn Tiger and, in the process, a Cam Newton fan.

This post is not going to be a defense of Cam Newton or attempt to explain what he did or didn't do or say pre, mid, or post-Super Bowl. Instead, I want to discuss this from the angle of being a symptom of a bigger issue.

At first, I jumped in and attempted to stand up for Newton, not that he needs me or anyone else to do so. This morning, though, I had a bit of an epiphany and realized that this situation illustrates a problem we as human being have and had have, perhaps since Adam and Eve walked around in the Garden of Eden.

We as a species are quick to attack, disparage, deny, criticize, and otherwise denigrate that which is different from us or that which we do not understand. Cam Newton's behaviors and reactions are just one example. Other examples include climate change, same-sex marriage, Islam, and in my case, the continuing popularity of Justin Bieber. (Let's not even get into the political arena. We could be here for days.)

Some, perhaps even most of this is no doubt cultural. We grew up white or Southern Baptist or in the 1960s and therefore can't understand the popularity of hip-hop. In some cases, it may be because that thing we speak out against stands in the way of something we support. In the case of Cam Newton, part of that would be because the Carolina Panthers are not your team or they beat your team.

Part of this is perhaps also due to age. Most of the negative comments I've seen regarding Cam Newton seem to come from a certain demographic, the over-40 crowd. As a member of this crowd myself, I can certainly understand. As we age, many of us become even more resistant to change and to that which is different from us.

Yes, there are those of us who seek out new adventures and experiences as we get older, but many of us prefer the familiar or at least seek to filter those new adventures and experiences through something familiar. (An example of this might be finally deciding to travel but going on a cruise or a tour so as to be with other people like you and in somewhat familiar surroundings.)

I don't know that there is an answer or solution short of genetic engineering to make everyone the same in future generations. I also know some reading this will be quick to point out a line later in Joe South's song, so let me save you the trouble:
Now your whole world you see around you is just a reflection, and the law of Karma says you're gonna reap just what you sow.
Those people will say Cam Newton is getting just what he deserves. Perhaps they should read the very next line of the song:
So unless you've live a life of total perfection, you'd better be careful of every stone that you should throw.
Now back to our regularly scheduled stone throwing.