In case I have somehow failed to be transparent, allow me to briefly reveal that the Intramuralist is a diehard Reds fan. Diehard. I love them. Growing up in the era of the Big Red Machine (and as a child, opportunistically desiring to root for a winner), I have long followed their failure and success. Hence, when in the bottom of the 9th with loaded bases and 2 outs Sunday, when former MVP, Joey Votto, hit a walk off grand slam to win the game, I was literally jumping up and down. It was awesome! (… with all due respect, newfound Washington National fans…)
Yet perhaps what was most awesome about Sunday — and what’s most relevant here (for even the non-sports fan) — is not Votto’s all-star performance; it was not the fact that the dramatic game winner was actually his 3rd round tripper of the game; rather, it was how Votto spoke about his exceptional performance thereafter.
He didn’t boast. He didn’t brag. He didn’t chastise his opponent. In the immediate post-game interviews, where superlatives were generously cast upon him, Votto resisted all attempts to affirm his own performance and his worth to all others. Contrastingly, he complimented the opposing team’s pitcher, noting how difficult he is to hit, and then calmly spoke in regard to how all the fanfare wasn’t his forte. Votto said, “Moments like this, this is kind of the icing on the cake, but all the little grinder type things are more my style.” In other words, when the lights were on and the camera was rolling — with nothing scripted — Joey Votto displayed genuine humility. In a moment where he could have bragged and could have boasted and we all would have listened — he intentionally chose not to. He chose to be humble instead. That, my friends, is something from which even the non-sports fan can learn.
We speak much these days about desiring unity — how if we were somehow more united in purpose and pursuit, we would be wiser; we would be more productive and successful. And yet, we routinely abandon that which is our greatest unifier. Unity is absolutely dependent on humility.
And so in Washington, intelligent men and women say they desire unity, but then they…
… blame all lack of success solely on someone else…
… use “I/me/my/myself” in a speech more times than we can count…
… say their top political priority is to deny one person a second term…
… and/or take credit for an outcome that was contributed to by many…
Friends, these actions reek of arrogance. There are too many people touting their claim to their desired icing on the cake. There is no humility in these actions. When there is no humility, regardless of intentions uttered into a public microphone, there exists no unity.
Then again, perhaps that’s the actual bottom line. Perhaps unity is merely an exercise in lip-service for environments extending beyond the Reds’ clubhouse. Perhaps unity is simply something that sounds good — that many say they want — but in actuality, is merely the desire for others to cede individual opinion. Thus, I conclude that many who boldly proclaim sincere unifying efforts often wish most to squelch opposing opinion. That’s not unity. If we desire unity, we must instead begin by modeling personal humility.
After Sunday’s Reds’ game, it was not only Joey Votto who donned a seemingly ceaseless grin. The entire team was elated — the veterans, the rookies, the coaches and local media. Age didn’t matter. Experience was irrelevant. The Reds’ clubhouse was completely united in their joy.
Were they united because they were victorious?
Were they united because Votto hit a walk off grand slam?
To some degree, yes.
But they were perhaps more united because of how Votto spoke about his role in the victory. In the unscripted moment of truth, Votto affirmed others and focused on much more than his own accomplishments. He demonstrated great humility.
(Did I mention I love the Reds?)