A Meeting In The Middle Of The Aisle?

Senseless violence and near death once again struck a few weeks ago, as the Republicans took to the practice field preparing for the recent baseball game between Republican and Democratic Representatives at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. As the Republican team was practicing days prior to for the continuation of this century-old bipartisan ritual (dating back to 1909 and played annually with a few interruptions), a would-be assassin opened fire on the participants injuring three, one of them critically. The game went on as scheduled, even though there were definitely some partisan remarks, one side blaming the other for the shooting, trying to create guilt and blame by association. One representative even tried to place partial blame on our former President for being responsible for the shooting. (His logic was harder to figure out than a teacher trying to comprehend an excuse from a fourth grader as to why he/she didn’t have their homework done.)

In the couple days that followed the weapon assault leading up to the game, which would be played as scheduled, there was a somewhat exchange of the swords and shields of fighting each other for bats and gloves and having fun playing together. Thoughts and prayers were passed, exchanged and shared, some by leaders of both groups who have been very outspoken in criticism of each other before this incident took place. There was even a political cartoon showing a baseball player wearing a red uniform standing beside a player in a blue uniform with arms on each other’s shoulders, looking as if they were praying together, and a newspaper photo printed the day after the game showed both teams kneeling near second base being led in prayer by former MLB All Star, Steve Garvey, the accompanying article also acknowledging chants of “USA, USA,” coming from fans in the stands. (Another scratch of my head wondering how the idea of separation of Church and State gets put in someone’s back pocket when our legislators decide it is okay to publically pray together, yet school children can’t have the same right in our public schools. Sorry, I digress!) Back to the game … there was even a sign held up in the stands with the words, “ONE FAMILY” written on it. House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi was quoted as saying, “Tonight we will go to the game, play our hardest, but we will all be Team Scalise.” (Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise was the representative critically injured in the attack.)

The game was played that night as always as a charity event, this year benefitting The Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Greater Washington, the Washington Literacy Center, the Washington Nationals’ Dream Foundation, and after the shooting, the Capitol Police Memorial Fund was added as a beneficiary. The record through the years after the most recent game is 42-40-1 led by the Republicans. Close overall tally for an annual game where two “teams” work so hard preparing to gain a win over their opponent, and work so hard to raise money for organizations that are community minded, meaning they help all people. Isn’t that what we hope from our government officials, to work hard together for the benefit of ALL Americans, making us all members of “ONE FAMILY?” Maybe the tallies in the Capitol might be as close as the overall record of the game if the participants of both use the same mindset for both.

Point of all of this might be asking why the two “teams” seem to be very selective in where, when, and under what circumstances they decide to work together for the betterment of all people in this country. Why is it that they can kneel together and pray in certain situations, but lately haven’t been able to sit and talk, concede once in a while, and make decisions that will benefit all people in this country, not just select groups or members of one, or another, political affiliation. Maybe members of each “team” need to practice the same rules of sportsmanship when debating an issue or a proposed law as they did coming together, praying together, and playing together for the betterment of the many and not few. One television news reporter suggested that maybe after each session of Congress or after each State of the Union Address, each political “team” should line up and go through the ceremonious shaking of hands just as they did after the baseball game, and as we watch children do after they play a Little League game.

Maybe also they need to come back to the realization that they are not really two teams competing against one another, but in effect are all members of one team, Team America, symbolically represented by that banner reading “ONE FAMILY” held up at the recent Congressional Baseball Game.

Think of how much better we could teach children, and also adults, about respect, sportsmanship, working together, consensus, give and take, and getting along with each other for the good of the group or others around them, if we could use our Congressional leaders as examples of what to do and how to do it, as opposed to being poster characters hung in our classrooms that say, “Don’t let this happen to you.”

Debate, caucus and discussion are all valuable ways to try and get to the best possible decision that will help the greatest number of people, if done respectfully and with that greatest number of people in mind. Argument, accusation, and name calling can’t be a part of those aspects of coming to a consensus for the betterment of most to make it the most effective. We teach that to kids in schools, on playgrounds, at various athletic venues and at our homes, and try to reinforce those skills as they grow up, but it loses effectiveness and importance to them as they watch many of our elected governmental officials fight and argue over issues, policies, laws, and procedures mostly because someone of the other “team” came up with the idea and it then becomes a battle of egos rather than minds.

Before the Congressional Baseball Game began, President Trump spoke the words, “Let’s Play Ball,” to begin the traditional game for charity, the key word being “play.” People who occupy the positions that our Congressional Leaders do need to “play (translated “work“) together” better than they have been. The coming together by both “teams” to pray, to play, and to shake hands upon at the conclusion of the game this year should serve as the “training film” of those elected to any office, anywhere. Sadly though, it took a catastrophic occurrence to make it happen.

Here’s hoping the actions of our elected members of Congress eradicate the accusations and the blame game, and realize that the two “teams” are really playing for the same “team,” helping make all members of “Team America” winners in National and World competition.