There have been a lot of victories in the news lately, some shocking, some not so much. The first is the Cubs winning the World Series. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't really care about baseball. I played as a kid, but watching it makes me want to stab my own eyes out by the fourth inning just so I can stay awake. I am neither subtle nor nuanced, which apparently are two essential skills needed to love baseball. However, I love a good underdog story. The fact that they came back to win a series when they weren't favored to (curse or otherwise) made my heart sing. It was awesome watching my social media blow up with the joy and pure exhilaration of my die-hard baseball fan friends. Finally! Cubbies win! Woohoo! I found myself wishing I were as invested in something so fantastic. But I'm a nerd. Give me a book and a Bic, not a ball and bat.
Mere weeks later, Donald Trump stunned a nation by winning the presidential election. Even those who voted for him were in disbelief. After a moment of shocked silence, the hand-wringing and name-flinging began. Again, my social media blew up - but with no joy this time. Videos of violent protest, the calling for more "unfriending," the naming of any Trump supporter as a racist, xenophobic misogynist, and the gloating from the "winners" made me so upset I had to stop looking. I know people who voted for Clinton. I know people who voted for Trump. I know people who voted for a third-party candidate. I can tell you with certainty that none of them are horrible, Satan-loving, racists, socialists, sore losers, misogynist whatever-you-want-to-box-them-in-as people. They're frustrated and want voices heard. One side cries, "But we won the popular vote!" The other cries, "But that doesn't matter! The electoral college counts!" Our nation is divided and in an ugly way. I'd argue that no one really won.
Last night, the great Westfield Shamrocks (the school where I teach) won the Indiana Class 5A football championship for the first time ever in the history of Westfield schools. This win came after years of hard work, sweat, and tears. The coach reported that the boys practiced 331 days of the year, in addition to games and various community service events. This coach focuses on building the character of the boys, and I have to say that these boys are respectful, smart, focused, and disciplined because of the football program and the support they receive from their parents and coaches. As I watched them play, biting my nails at intervals of close calls in the game, I saw kids from every race, socioeconomic class, and size working together on the sidelines to help their team win. I saw the losing team shake their hands with grace and dignity. There was no name-calling, no mud-slinging. And I secretly was glad that these boys won so no one will feel like Uncle Rico in 20 years (If only we'd won state!). I realize a high school football game is nothing like a national election, but I think we can all take a lesson from these kids. Be gracious and humble in winning and losing. If you want something, work hard for it - be disciplined and respectful.
I don't know what the future holds in terms of politics. I hope the apocalypse-predictors are wrong and that we aren't in for a huge crash in the market or Hitler-like regime under our new president. I hope the election wasn't hacked by the Russians. I hope that people on both sides can see each other for more than the worst stereotype (Deplorables! Socialists! Criminals! Liars!) and work together. It does no good to wish for failure on the part of either side - we only hurt ourselves. I want to be like the Cubs and the Shamrocks and persevere se we all win, even against the odds.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.