I know that reading the newspaper and watching the news can lead one into saying: "It is all going to hell in a hand basket. What positive difference can I make?"
But we can be "keepers of the flame" and make a positive difference. Don't give in to negativity!
As most of you know I like to tell stories in my Sunday lessons. I believe that real life stories of people going through 'stuff' in the modern world can bring home points and show solutions that work. What is the point of our faith if it does not work in difficult situations?
So here is a real life true story: When my older children played sports, it was not always the best experience to say the least. In some cases winning at almost all costs seemed to be stressed. Parents would have major temper tantrums if an umpire made a call which did not go the parents' way. Many kids on the team seemed to sit on the bench for almost the entire game. The time commitments required for practice and games seemed very unrealistic. And most importantly: It seemed that FUN often had been driven out of youth sports.
Well, this Fall it was time to sign up my four-year-old daughter, Therese, for soccer. I did not want Therese to experience any of the above. I searched for a youth sports program that was built on different values than what my older children had experienced, and I did find such a program! This soccer program drives home a key Unity point ("Change your thinking and you change your life) in the following ways:
--The program is called i9, and this stands for nine "I AM" values, including: I am a good team member, a good sportsperson who follows the rules, a person of courage, a person who shares, a person who values more than just winning, a person who plays sports to have fun, a person who shares, etc. (Each week a different value is stressed.)
--Parents do NOT yell at umpires and coaches. In fact, when the other team scores a goal, parents on our team also cheer!
--All the children get to play, and nobody is a bench sitter!
--Having fun is stressed! (What are sports if they are not fun?).
--The time required for practices and games are reasonable and parents and kids are not expected to give over half their liives-- or more-- to soccer.
The point is that it was possible to build a youth sports program that did NOT exhibit the negatives I mentioned above. I believe that this principle applies to more than youth sports. We can create a culture and world that respects and enhances the values we treasure. We can make a positive difference by living these values and passing them on. As Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see."
Rev. Dr. Rick Belous
Unity Center of Tulsa