Saturday, January 24, 2015

3 Reasons Why We Like to See People Fail in Kokomo

Downtown Baseball Complex in progress

Lately there are local stories of a downtown business or two ready to close up, and of course there's the ongoing challenge of the new baseball stadium. In both of these, people are both happy and sad, which got me to wonder, "Why would we ever want people in our community to fail?"

We don't typically outright say that we want people to fail, but we think it. I have. It's not something I'm proud of, rather it's something I've noticed that I want to change. For me, the reason I haven't been sad to hear of a business closing is:

1. Pride

Pride is about being right. "See, I told you they wouldn't make it." "What did I tell you? That mayor is a jerk; see, this proves it!"

When I get a twisted sense of happiness over being right in regard to real people's failures, that's a problem. That's unattractive.

(Just to be clear, pride in terms of one's country, child etc is perfectly fine and good. I'm talking here about being prideful, which means thinking you're more important or better than other people.)

What's a healthy response to people's failures? Sadness. Considering that these real people and their real employees no longer have money coming in or worse, debt they can't repay. It's considering that if the stadium doesn't get done, it will reflect poorly on all of us--even those saying, "I told you so!"

In situations of failure, the past rarely if ever matters. What matters is now, everyone involved, and the future. And by the way, the opposite of pride is humility or perhaps compassion even. Pride is always about us. The truth is we've never seen someone focused on himself and said, "I want to be like him!" We're repelled by pride while the people we're most drawn to are focused on others.

The best life is one focused on others, not on our self. So the next time I feel myself saying, "See, I was right," over someone's failure. I'm going to realize that reveling in being right, is wrong.

2. Politics

I appreciate politics. It's responsible for all the good things we take for granted. If you don't understand that statement, travel to any third world country. And for the record, I've never voted a straight ticket and I have great friends on both sides of the aisle.

But where politics goes awry is when being a __________ is more important than being a Kokomoan or a Hoosier or an American.

When an administration is up against a challenge and half the people stand by and watch, or worse, fan the flames, this elevates the party over the city, state, or country. It also entices us to cross over into bad character when we enjoy seeing someone fail.

I know everyone's not into God, but there are a lot of proclaiming Christians in the political arena. So when we as Christians enjoy watching people fail, verses being part of the solution, we're fighting against people for whom Christ died.

I know that's a little heavy, but the truth about our community is it's heavily Christian.

I love all the things politics gets done. I loathe the division it creates because mankind is always at it's best when it's unified, when we're together.

"The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is because man is disunited with himself." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Our flag is not just one of many political points of view. Rather, the flag is symbol of our national (and local) unity." -Adrian Cronauer

"A house divided cannot stand." -Abe Lincoln paraphrasing Mark 3:25

When politics baits me to jump in and have a view of elected officials that's less kind than Jesus would have me be, I back away from politics so that I can embrace and be for people--all people, even those I didn't vote for.

3. We're not the people our parents hoped we'd be

Sometimes we're just not nice, and the only difference between now and when we were 10 is that there's no wise voice to grab us and say, "Stop it! Treat others like you'd like to be treated!"

Think about it: you are so much better of a person than to enjoy seeing people fail. Businesses are people. Governments are people. As soon as we fail to see that, we've unknowingly dehumanized life making it easier for us to be mean spirited.

One thing is true: people will fail. Businesses and governments will fail. How we respond to these events, internally in our minds, or externally in social media and in our actions, defines the people that we will be.

Every day in every response, we define our character. I write this because what I want for you and me is be better people. More humble, less prideful, more compassionate and perhaps even at times, part of the solution.