Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Different World

As the chill of the spring evening descended upon us, I sat at my office window which overlooks a green area that is filled with trees and great expanses of freshly mown grass.  The aroma of the newly cut lawn drifted in through the open window and instantly freshened the room.  Down below, in the lengthening shadows, three boys ranging in ages from eight to twelve were engaged in an exciting cricket match. 

My mind swiftly retreated to earlier days, the days that were filled with the carefree notion of youth.  I lived in a neighborhood composed mainly of elderly people.  There were few kids my age anywhere near.  But, there were enough, so that on those hot and humid summer nights that define the Midwest, a spirited game of baseball would often break out. 

Our "field" was the asphalt of a sloping playground that was watched over by an ageing school building.  Jefferson School had been in place for years.  It was the childhood elementary school of my mother back in the 1930's.  In its day I am sure it was a regal appearing structure.  But now, in the sixties, it showed its age and it looked tired.  Nevertheless, it was a great spot for a ballgame.

Now I am not an athlete!  I know this may shock some of you, but it is true.  I was always the kid who was "elected" to take that vital position of right fielder simply because very rarely did a ball ever reach that field and if it did it was because of a bad throw to the first baseman!  But it was fun any way.

As I played out those times in my memory, the echoes of the cricket players brought me back to the present.  "How different the world is today!" I thought to myself.  In those days of the sixties, everyone on the ball field was white.  Most were boys, although some girls who had to prove themselves as "suitable" athletes were allowed in the game!  Down below my window perch, the three young men playing cricket were all from the Far East.  Two were of Chinese descent and the third was from the Indian continent.  And they played in complete harmony.  There wasn't one raised voice in anger.  They were perfectly happy playing in the quiet of the early evening.

How different the world is, yet, in so many ways, it remains the same.  The cricket players like we veterans of that asphalt baseball diamond, were busy just being kids.  Screaming and yelling.  Running and laughing.  Playing as hard as possible to win but, yet, somehow winning wasn't the most important thing.  It was the fun of it all.  And just being a kid!

And then the thought struck me, how different the world would be if we, as we grew up, would have kept just half the attitude we had as kids.  Baseball players and cricket players struggled to win.  We were all competitive.  But it was the friendship that counted.  The feeling that you were part of the gang.  That somehow you had worth because you could play together, try to beat each other, and when it was all said and done, you left the ball yard even better friends just waiting for the next game to "blow them away!"  We knew we all had flaws but it didn't matter.  We played on and then we grew up.

It is my hope that the cricket players beneath my window will have learned from my generation how important it is to take along with them into adulthood at least a little of that attitude that all children have.  That somehow, they will be able to in the future, still see the important thing at the end of the day is the complete regard for the other person!  Now there would be a "Different World!"