“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”
–Jason Collins, first NBA player to come out
I am amazed and proud of Jason for such a courageous act. To be respectful of the timing with his announcement shows what class and dignity all about. This act of bravery got me to thinking, where in my life do I still need to raise my hand and stand up for what I believe in?
I don’t have to be an NBA player with a national setting to state my belief and make an impact in the world. It all can begin right where I am, right where I live, eat, work and play. I can make a difference in one person’s life by choosing to be brave, and show love, where it is much easier to ignore or show disdain.
When coming off the freeway and seeing someone holding a sign, asking for money or food, I don’t have to reach into my wallet necessarily, but how about just being human, looking them in the eye, and saying a prayer for them. So often I avert my eyes, as if that will make them disappear and free me from any obligation to consider them a child of God, just like me.
When I’m in the grocery store and a parent has a child with them that his having a complete meltdown, I can choose to pass by with my nose raised in the air, or worse yet with condescending eyes shred what little bit of dignity they may have left with a leering glance, or I can take the high road and express my empathy for them with my energy and eyes. Sure, it would make me vulnerable to a violent response of ‘mind your own damn business’, but maybe, it will give that parent that brief respite, that simple reprieve from what seems like an overwhelming embarrassment at the time.
When I’m with my friends and someone makes a snide comment about another person passing by, not to be mean, but to be funny, I can choose to engage in the laughter, entertain the mocking and add my own wisecrack. Or I can choose to take the high road, and not participate in laughing ‘at’, but only laughing ‘with’ my fellow man.
Perhaps if I choose to make better choices, the next time I am feeling apart from, I can allow myself a little slack, and know that I don’t have to feel shame over my shortcomings, and push the pause button on tapes that no longer serve me.
Just for today I will consider others.