I happened to be watching the awesome display of firepower put on by America's men's basketball at the Olympics yesterday and upset my oldest daughter. Emma was in the same state of patriotic cheerleading that everyone in our home, including myself, are in during these days and she did not understand why I was expressing my distaste for the stellar blowout underway.
"Emma", I said in explanation. "Let's put it this way; let's just say that your soccer team is scheduled for a match. When you show up, your middle school girls' soccer team happens to be playing the 2010 National Champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish Women's Soccer Team. And let's just say that after the score is around 100 to nothing and they are kicking the crap out of your team, they continue to score at will. And let's say the Irish women not only continue to score, but are high-fiving and doing trick shots to run the score up because they want to set a record for how bad they can beat up on a middle school girls' soccer team. How would that make you and your teammates feel?"
She looked at me and understood.
To those who have much, as you have heard, much is expected. While I think that running up a score to beat a record is pretty tacky, the way it went about was even worse, what with Lebron and Carmelo scoring at will, everyone chest bumping and celebrating a giveaway match against the Nigerian men. I don't begrudge these guys the win, because honestly, they are the best in the world. What I can't stomach is the way in which they acted, as if they were beating up on an opponent that was actually in their league.
Professionalism infers a level of competency, but it also includes a level of behavior that includes restraint and decorum. Our conduct in the defeat of another should be restrained, or as best described by Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching,
Arms, however beautiful, are instruments of ill omen, hateful to all creatures. Those who know the way of life do not wish to employ them. The superior man prefers his higher nature, but in time of war, will call upon his lower nature.Weapons are an instrument of ill omen, and not the instruments of the superior man, until he has no choice but to employ them. Peace is what he prizes; victory through forces of arms is to him undesirable. To consider armed victory desirable would be to delight in killing men, and he who delights in killing men will not prevail on the world.To celebrate when man’s higher nature comes forth is the prized position; when his lower nature comes forth is time for mourning. The commander’s second has his place in man’s higher nature; the commanding general has his place assigned to man’s lower nature; his place assigned to him as if to a funeral.He who has killed multitudes of men should weep for them; and the victor in battle has his place accorded as in a funeral.