I laughed out loud when I read recently that the municipal government in Beijing, China was blaming outdoor grilling for the city’s increasingly dense smog and was banning cooking over outdoor fires.
Here is the earth’s most prolific polluter – China, and its state-run, Hell-bent-on-growth economy – telling the nice people of its capital city to stop spitting in the ocean of poison the Chinese government itself has created and still promotes.
The National Football League – whose GDP may be growing as rapidly as China’s – has acted in similar ways. Facing epidemic criticism for its handling of current and former players’ head injuries, the NFL pointed at youth football. Facing criticism for the brutality of its players toward women, the NFL prepared programs for adolescents and teens. It seems the fault is always someplace other than the NFL juggernaut.
But most times that I laugh at or criticize the blind eyes or bad faith of others, I pause to consider if we might sometimes act in similar ways. Might we be asking others to stop doing harm where we ourselves are doing more harm?
An extreme example could be that we criticize people for losing their minds at events when it is the MHSAA itself that sponsors and conducts the events of highest profile and importance ... although I will always argue that the most important events of educational athletics are the first ones – the first practices and games that introduce 7th, 8th and 9th graders to school-sponsored sports and shape their attitudes for years to come.
In any event, when any of us sees others act in ways we think are ridiculous, it would be good for all of us to then think about the ways we look ridiculous to others. And then consider if there are ways to change those perceptions.