Goodbye, Michael Chang

The great Michael Chang retired today. And that makes me sad. What little I knew of tennis in the 80’s & 90’s centered on him. He was an inspiration to me, as he was the lone successful Asian in a “white man’s tennis world.” He was a forthright Christian, who always gave glory to God after his victories—to the ongoing dismay of critics. I always rooted for Michael, like I root for most underdogs, no matter whom he was playing—be it Agassi or Sampras (who, incidentally, also retired today with much greater fanfare). I root for Michael, because it’s like rooting for myself. And rooting for my own success in an impossible world.

The Integrity of Reggie White

reggie-white-nfl

This article originally appeared in the Letters to the Editor of Broadside, the George Mason University student newspaper.

In the past few days, there has been much said about the statements Green Bay Packer Reggie White made to the Wisconsin assembly last Wednesday. He condemned homosexuality and commended several ethnic groups on their supposed “blessings” as a people. Though I, myself, am a Christian and share White’s determination to stand up for biblical teaching, I’m not here to endorse or refute White’s statements. Rather, what is concerning me is the apparent inconsistency the media covering this story have shown by their remarks.

I find it hard to believe that those who’ve been vehemently promoting the practice of tolerance in this country have not hesitated in blasting White for expressing his strongly-held beliefs. It’s nothing short of hypocrisy to say, on the one hand, “All views should be respected and treated equally well,” and on the other, “…well, all views except your Christianity, Reggie.”

Remember, Reggie White does not hold the view that “every opinion and preference is right.” He believes in a God that sets rules. Any deviation from these rules White believes to be a sin and is wrong. This is his view. He believes it, so he endorses it. Any logical human being will endorse what he believes to be true.

The tolerance-mongers in the media and in our society, instead of practicing their precious tolerance have said, “You can’t have those views!” For the sake of consistency, I thought their reaction would be, “Well, I don’t agree with you, but that’s OK. Both our views are equally valid.”

The bottom line is: Reggie White practices what he preaches, and the liberal media do not. To me, the only real villain in this story is the hypocrite.

I also wanted to remark specifically on his ethnic “commendations.” Reggie White expressed what he thought were blessings God has bestowed on particular races. He singled out specifics (i.e. Whites are good at organization, Blacks at worship and celebration, Hispanics at family life, Native Americans at spirituality, and Asians at innovation and creativity). When I was listening to this portion of his speech, I couldn’t help but be reminded of all the ethnic celebrations we hold here at GMU.

We have Black History Month, Asian Awareness Week, International Week, and many other celebrations designed to identify and celebrate particular accomplishments, beliefs, and lifestyles of the many different ethnic groups that make up our university. When we watch the International Fashion Show, for instance, we don’t object, “That’s stereotypical! Not all (fill in ethnic group here) dress like that!” Rather, we celebrate our differences and take pride in the fact that “our race” has its own history and list of accomplishments. Differences in abilities and cultures is a good thing. Otherwise, what’s the point in making ethnic distinctions? There are distinctions, so why ignore them? I, for one, would hate it if everybody was exactly like me (what a boring world that would be!).

But whether you take pride in your differences or wish everybody was exactly the same, or whether you think all views are equal or believe your view to be the only correct one, what our society should promote and commend is the consistency between your beliefs and your actions. If you believe one way, be consistent with your belief. If you don’t have integrity, you don’t even have an argument and no one will ever listen to you.

Regardless of my shared religion with Reggie White, I totally respect him for not compromising on what he believes to be true. Integrity is truly a great thing.

Skate or Die

lonely-skateboarder

This article originally appeared in the Greenbrier Valley Ranger‘s “Apropos” column.

On any given day, unblemished and pleasant, in fairly high populated cities, one would have no problem in locating a handful of skaters, joined by friendship, taking to the streets and sidewalks of their concrete refuge, for a fast-paced journey across town and back, for the pure joy of the hard-core exertion it gives them. The skater . . . misunderstood by most, cherished only by the few, is shadowed in the sights of the higher class of the privileged, but, unaffected by this, skates his heart out at every potential period, standing strong in his preference, as firm as the immovable mountain. In high society they are outcasted from the mainstream because of their preference, but the skaters of the world face opposition head on with an ecstacy sparkle in their eyes which some could interpret as a mild sign of insanity. Fear is not present in the true skater’s life. For this reason, the skater remains on this earth, inviting the resistance, the persecution, the separation. Nothing stops them. Not the rebuke and not the resentment. Not the disapproval and not the dissonance. And, surely, hindrances such as the pathetic laws adopted – outlawing skating on the streets of many cities – will not bring the skater down.

But, first, . . . why, exactly, are skaters – ones who simply enjoy the use of the skateboard – treated as losers unworthy of respect, people who will never amount to anything in their lifetime? Because they are different? That is only half of the answer. Being different is nothing, for every lone person on this planet, living or dead, is different from the rest in some unique way. Difference is an entity which we all live with, day in and day out, with total acceptance. No, difference is not the reason, but fear is. It is the fear of difference, the sweetest malice, which flows with insane ease through the willing man’s life, and confronts the skaters as a hostile foe.

What is a skater? A man. What is a lawyer? A man. What is the President of the United States? A man. Why, then, is it more “respectable” to be a lawyer or the President than to be a professional skater? The three are equal. All having faults, and none perfect. None impressing God more than the other. The reason is society. Children grow to adults with the influence of society providing them their attitudes, morals, and values. The idea taught to children today and from generation to generation is – Success is money and fame. Surely, being the President or a marvelously paid lawyer are occupations more successful (in today’s standards) than spending one’s days on a skateboard. But what the world is calling “success” is a pure illusion, distorted and deceiving. Success is achieving happiness and contentment. The truly successful ones roaming this planet are the ones who have truly found the secret of life; the ones who, against the grain, seek and find the things which make them happy and content. How successful is the stressed-out businessman, rich beyond belief, but faced everyday with the question of whether or not he should blow off his head because he can’t stand the pressure? How successful is the factory owner who gets rich off the products he makes, but ignores the lives lost by over-exposure to the deadly pollutants coming from the pipes of the factory? How successful is the glorious athlete who was famed through his steroids, but now lies, never to get up because of them? But, successful are the happy.

The skater feeds on his freedom and strives on his stress-free lifestyle, able to live his clean, open life without the evils of the dog-eat-dog reality and the malice of money.

Most people in this world see ones, such as the skaters, and are afraid of the idea that, they, living their lives doing something they enjoy, can have a wonderful life without going through the same anger and stress most people do in offices and businesses. Most are jealous of the skaters’ happiness because of the lack of their own. It is envy which plays a major part in the resentment to skaters, along with fear.

The skater, . . . happy in his own right, undeserving of resentment, free from the fast, hard lifestyle of the rich and famous, and truly a wonder of nature. It is the world’s evil, corruption, and greed which the skater leaves behind when he pushes off, for the first time, on his brand new skateboard, ready to face a new day.