The Best and the Worst of America

14 Aug

Tonight, my daughter woke up crying.

A dry diaper, a few ounces of formula, and some gently rocking on Daddy’s chest got her calmed down and back to sleep.  While I waited for her to get into a deep enough sleep so I could move here back to bed without waking her, I scrolled through Twitter on my phone.

My Twitter feed was dominated by two topics.  Both are taking place in the same state, and are only separated by about three or so hours on the interstate.  But, they are worlds apart.  They show us how great we can be, while demonstrating how bad we are.

*   *   *

I’ve been a fan of the Kansas City Royals for most of my life.  It just made sense – Kansas City is the closest Major League team to my eastern Nebraska home, and when I was in the formidable years when a boy picks the teams they like, the Royals were winning.  Granted, since that World Series title in 1985, being a Royals fan has been an exercise in masochism, frustration, and pity from friends and family.

Now imagine being a lifelong Royals fan born and raised in South Korea.

That brings us to the happy side of my Twitter feed.  SungWoo Lee has been a passionate, hardcore Royals fan since the 1990s – all while living in South Korea.  His dream has been to come to KC and watch his beloved Royals play.  Thanks to the efforts of some KC fans on social media, SungWoo has been living every baseball fan’s dream for the last week:  meeting players, throwing out the first pitch, hanging with Hall of Famer George Brett, and watching the Royals go on an eight game winning streak to move into first place.

One of the guys responsible for bringing SungWoo to KC is a guy I follow on Twitter, The Fake Ned (@TheFakeNed).  He has been tweeting about SungWoo’s visit pretty much non-stop.

Basically, the whole SungWoo experience has been one magical fairy ride that has made the most jaded of Royals fans believe.

*   *   *

Meanwhile, 230 miles east on I-70 sits the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.  For everything good and wonderful going on in Kansas City, something ugly and scary is going down in Ferguson, MO.  A young black man was shot and killed by police, which has led to civil unrest, protests, police attacks, and a racially charged powder keg of a town.

 

What.

The.

Hell?

*   *   *

I’m seeing and reading about these things while my not yet one year old black daughter sleeps on my chest.  I think that is what makes it so real and so difficult for me.  Someday I’m going to have to explain this world that we live in to my children.

I’m going to have to tell my children that sometimes you can follow all the rules and still be arrested – or worse.  Explain to them that in many parts of the greatest nation on earth, the color of their skin entitles them to the right to be treated poorly.  Try to instill a respect for an authority that sometimes has no respect for them.  Attempt to raise good, honest, hard-working adults who are not jaded and disillusioned by racism and prejudice that I’ll never truly know.

And I have to balance that brutal honesty while hopefully getting them to believe that there really are good people in the world too.  People that will open their arms for a guy from the other side of the globe, treat him like royalty, and make us believe in the inherent good in people – even if he’s of a different race.  All because he’s a fan of the same historically crappy baseball team that we like?

*   *   *

Since I’m struggling to put a pretty bow on all of this, I’ll let The Fake Ned have the last word:

 

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