In the early 1990's, while a young assistant college basketball coach at Paul Smith's College in Northern New York State, our starting shooting guard was shot to death on the streets of NYC. A random drive by act of senseless violence that stole from a family and nation. Brian, or Bezo as we called him, was more than a great player. He was a great man. Kind, low keyed, and great sense of humor. Our entire team was rocked; Tiny, Twin, John, Todd and the others. This was my first exposure to the senseless tragedy that has became all too common in our society. In just over a year, Tupac and Biggie Smalls would both be gunned down. I had many gut level conversations with the players and to this day the loss of these great men remains painful. Bezo was part of our family and in reality, so was Tupac and Chris Wallace.
In truth, at some level, we are all family. When one of us looses a child or a brother or a sister we all do.
As a culture, we can learn something from team athletics. We can learn that family is not always defined by having the same genetic code. That we don't all have to be best friends to work together. That even in disagreement, there is a process of conflict resolution that keeps the team dynamic in tact. That sometimes giving up our right to be right better than loosing connection as friends and family.
My friend Michael owns a noteworthy modeling agency in LA. Concerning this global virus attacking mankind, Michael recently told me "this is a spiritual wake up call in a world that needs to heal". My friend is right. What if we began to look at one another a compassion reserved for members of our family? What if we cut each other some slack? What if, while viewing behaviors that seems odd to us, instead of imposing some sinister set of motives that very likely don't even exist, we look deeper? We may find there is a kind human heart beating. A family member that is trying their very best to be their very best.
Sure I'm talking about our American family. But I'm also thinking about mankind. Together we are present during this moment in world history. We get to chose how history will remember us. Perhaps we have had enough of mocking others cultures or beliefs systems. Perhaps we can chose an epoch of reconciliation.