Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Three Things That Inspire Me from the Seahawks' Unprecedented NFC Victory

As if last year's breath-taking, Championship-winning interception tip by Richard Sherman against the San Francisco 49ers had not been dramatic enough, the Seahawks certainly upped the ante in this year's NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers in Seattle. As I reflect on the Seahawks' well-nigh unbelievable comeback in the final minutes, a game finish that is already the stuff of football legend, I find three things especially inspiring.







1) Perseverance

I must confess that early in the 4th quarter, when the Packers pulled away to a 12-point lead, I had already given up hope that the Seahawks would win. I posted both to Facebook and Twitter that, after a great run, the end had come. I was more than happy to eat those words later (and to delete those posts), and I learned what the true believers had been saying all along, that you must never discount the Seahawks. My premature prognostication was not as embarrassing though as that of a Boston newspaper which declared in an online article that Dewey, I mean, Green Bay, had defeated the Packers:



The Seahawks victory showed the power of perseverance in the face of almost impossible odds. Many teams would have given up facing a 12-point deficit with less than three minutes to go. But Russell Wilson kept going, and inspired his merry band of brothers to reach for greatness.

In his tearful post-game interview, in addition to praising his team, Wilson also spoke of God:



The question of God in sports is a thorny one. As person of faith, I do believe that God does make his presence felt in our everyday lives in a variety of ways, but, unlike many in the US, I don't believe that God personally arranges sports victories. I don't think God caused the Seahawks to score 17 points in 44 seconds, complete with an onside kick recovery and a two-point conversion. I don't think that God favored the Seahawks in the overtime coin toss to give them the possession advantage, nor that God guided the ball miraculously into the hands of Jermaine Kearse for the game-winning touchdown. Nor do I think Wilson is saying that.



I think that Wilson, a deeply faith-filled man, is saying that his relationship with God has given him the focus, the inspiration, the perseverance not to give up but to keep going even when all seemed lost. Wilson is the determined fighter he is because of his reliance on God's grace.

Obviously, not all of Wilson's fans have a religious perspective. But Wilson's example should encourage us to hold on to whatever beliefs or ways of thinking motivate us, propel us toward positive action, in times of darkness. How often and how easily we can despair. Wilson has shown us that we need to keep on keeping on.



2) Redemption

As they say, if at first you don't succeed, don't try skydiving. Rarely do athletes get a second chance at blown opportunities. To say that quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse struggled to connect in the NFC Championship game is putting it rather mildly. Wilson threw no less than four interceptions in what seemed like an increasingly misguided attempt to rely on Kearse. To paraphrase Monty Python and the Holy Grail , four of Wilson's passes to Kearse burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. The phrase "the Kearse curse" was starting appear on social media. But Wilson didn't give up on his teammate, and his last throw to him connected. Kearse caught the ball and scored the game-winning touchdown. He was redeemed. The four interceptions no longer mattered.

Our mistakes can haunt us for years, sometimes decades. But the story of Kearse in the NFC Championship game shows that redemption is possible.





3) Vulnerability

Many fans were in tears after the emotionally overpowering conclusion to the game. So was Russell Wilson. Russell cried. One of the toughest, most accomplished male athletes of our time cried openly for the whole country to see. And I find his crying deeply inspiring. Wilson showed that it's okay for men to display emotion, it's okay for men to appear vulnerable. Guys don't have to look tough and macho all the time. Not even the football guys.

Monday, January 19, 2015

MLK's Anitwar Message Still Powerful Today

Martin Luther King, Jr., was deeply and unequivocally opposed to the Vietnam War. His antiwar message, as expressed in his speech "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam," is still powerful and profoundly inspiring today. Below are three excerpts, followed by two audio versions.

"[I]t is estimated that we spend $500,000 to kill each enemy soldier, while we spend only fifty-three dollars for each person classified as poor, and much of that fifty-three dollars goes for salaries to people that are not poor."

"We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with a cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same school room. So we watch them in brutal solidarity, burning the huts of a poor village. But we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago or Atlanta. Now, I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor."

"Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. And there can be no great disappointment where there is not great love. I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism. We are presently moving down a dead-end road that can lead to national disaster. America has strayed to the far country of racism and militarism."

Shorter audio version:



Longer audio version:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sugar Kills - and It's Everywhere

A little bit of sugar might make the medicine go down, but will the medicine save us from the effects of all the sugar we are consuming? Our lives have been sweetened for sure by the sugar industry - but at what cost? The videos below will leave a bitter taste in your mouth.


We start with the addictive nature of sugar. Our body responds to sugar as to a drug like cocaine:



Next, John Oliver explores the ubiquitous presence of sugar in our food supply. This segment, originally aired for Halloween, should scare the hell out of all of us:



Lastly, a well-argued academic talk by a physician explores the devastating effects of sugar on our bodies. No way to sweeten this blow:

Seattle Prepares for NFC Championship

As the epic NFC Championship showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers approaches, Seattle lights up with green and blue.













Monday, December 29, 2014

Sweet Home Field Advantage

For the second time in a row, the Seattle Seahawks have secured home field advantage for the playoffs, much to the delight of the famed 12th man fans of our fair city.

Once again, the time has come for the song below:



Given the current euphoria in the city, I may also be excused for posting the following:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

John Oliver Explores the Dark Side of the State Lottery System

State lotteries are benign fundraisers that help to secure funds for public needs, like education, right?

Think again. John Oliver, one of the few true investigative reporters left in American media, explores and exposes the dark side of the state lottery system. As you'll see, the impact of state lotteries is devastating on a number of levels.