Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I like sports

Let me start by saying that I work nights. I get to see my daughter right before school, right after school, and on the weekends. She is involved in Tennis now during the week, so I usually do not get a chance to watch her practice. This morning however, my wife was beckoning me. I went to see what she was so excited about and was surprised to see a video of my daughter practicing tennis. My daughters nanny has a video recorder on her cell phone and recorded it for us, how nice. Well, needless to say, she was doing great.

She has been practicing tennis since last summer when she begged us to let her join a group lesson. My wife and I were both very athletic as youth, and our daughter is so full of energy we thought it would be great. She fell it love with the sport right away, but not for long. After about four months of group lessons she started to become bored with it. She said she didn't like it anymore. I was a little upset because not only did she display some aptitude for the sport, she had been so enthusiastic to begin with. I asked her why she wanted to quit. "It's too hard", she told me. I could understand. When I was about nine my dad and brothers and I went to see an amature boxing match. We, the boys, all begged our father to let us join a boxing club. Fortunately there was one in the town near where we lived. We joined, it was hard, I didn't like it for a while. My dad told me to stick with it, I would get better, and eventually see how fun the sport could be. He was correct in all three. Although I wasn't a gold glove, I got better. I won most of my matches, and actually scored a couple of KO's. But I think what it taught me most was to never give up.

So, I sat my daughter down and told her this: "Keep playing until next summer. If you still feel like you don't like it, you can quit." As I watched the video of my daughter practicing, I was delighted. She was 'into it' and looked so much better. Her focus on the game was inspiring. I mean really an eight year old with that kind of focus was simply impressive. It also showed me she really wants to get better. She is not talking about quitting anymore and seems to have enthusiasm for every practice. Oh yeah, we also started her on private lessons so I think that helped. Some of the things I like about my daughter playing a sport, or any child for that matter, follow. First, it keeps her active; she's not at home playing video games or messing around on the computer. Second, she's made friends there; these friends are the kind that could last a lifetime. Why? They obviously have at least one thing in common. Finally, sports teach more that just how to play. They teach focus and determination. They teach responsibility in following rules and being fair. And probably most important, they teach confidence.

I wanted to keep this short, but hey that's not easy to do when ideas flow but I will finish here. Parents, get your kids involved with some activity. It doesn't have to be sports. My daughter is also very interested in art, chess, and acting. I try to give her the opportunity to learn as much extracurricular stuff as possible. Get your kids off the couch and off the Playstation, it teaches them little. Children who are involved in activities learn social skills as well as the activity skill. They learn lessons that will carry throughout their lives.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A new journey of journaling

I have always wanted to start a journal of some kind. A place where I could dump some overly serious brain usage onto some white space with minimal worry or guilt. I have always had an active mind in that it is constantly working on some piece of information that flew in either arbitrarily or directly. It's the arbitrary ones that usually have me worked up by the end of the day. The ones that may not really affect me personally but appeal to my emotion or sense of reason.

Kind of like the anniversary of the Murrah building bombing here in Oklahoma City. I wasn't hurt or injured in the bombing, no relatives killed or injured not even an acquaintance of an acquaintance. So why would I even have an opinion on the subject? Well, because it happened in my back yard, per se, and it very well could have hurt me. The person (or persons) who planted the bomb (or bombs) that destroyed that building also destroyed something else in people that were not physically touched by it. They destroyed their sense of security. For months and for some even years they couldn't let their children out of their sight for even a fraction of a second for fear of losing them. They looked upon any stranger and any suspicious vehicle with a sense of distrust and even apathy.

The tearing down of trust among people and communities is in my opinion one of the worst effects and probably one of the top priorities of terrorism. The dead may be mourned, the injured may heal, but trust is something that keeps a city, state, or nation tied together. It is the glue of our society, and when it is compromised it causes us to look upon our neighbors with suspicion and malice. Fortunately, in the case of Oklahoma City there was such an outpouring of assistance not only from within the community, but also from other parts of the nation that our sense of trust may have been somewhat bolstered by the event. We as a community came together and in many cases started for the first time to actually go out into our communities to get to know our neighbors; if not for the simple reason that we learned we must rely on each other in such a tragedy. So, the terrorist has motives that in some cases become turned on them in the end.

We see this happening in Iraq more often. I have read several accounts of Iraqi citizens, fed up with these insurgents, taking matters into their own hands. An article recently recounted that several citizens of a Baghdad community killed some insurgents and wounded several others because they were tired of them shooting at passing cars and innocent people. These citizens fear finally morphed into anger and eventually action. The insurgents in Iraq should beware.

In Oklahoma City, terrorism brought our community closer. I believe Oklahomans are friendly and helpful anyway, but we can also at times be wary or suspicious of those we are not familiar with. After the Murrah bombing, many of us made it a point to reach out to our community and become involved with our neighbors and cities. This creates a community that is trusting yet secure because when someone or something threatens it, the word gets spread very quickly and our authorities are better supported in dealing with the threat.

Terrorism will eventually be defeated. It may take decades and many of our service members will pay the ultimate price for defending our nation against it. But I think terrorism's ultimate demise may not lay in the plans of generals but in the hearts of citizens. Humans everywhere will eventually realize that the terrorist is not a militant. That their actions have no real target but our psyches. And this will eventually make the terrorist the ultimate target. They will eventually become the bane of societies around the globe. Radicalism in any aspect of society will remain, hopefully the belief that only violence will further their cause will cease to exist.

These are the thoughts and meanderings of a common citizen. Thank you for letting me share them.