Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Post Original Title: Sometimes, Life's Just Not Fair

Originally posted: 5/24/2010

I play soccer for an outdoor coed team recreationally every spring and fall. I really enjoy it, it's a great way to get some exercise and I mostly enjoy my teammates. We've all been playing together for a few years now, plus or minus a few people. We play in Lafayette, which is a largely Hispanic community and each season we play at least two fully-Hispanic teams.

**Here I have to interject about my own particular viewpoints on "race." From an Anthropological perspective, "race" is a completely made up concept, hence my using quotation marks to denote it's fiction. There is no biological basis for "race," "race" is something that early "scientists" (men with no research to back up their theory) came up with to promote the concept of "white" superiority (so as to justify their moving about the world and blatantly raping various cultures of their lands and their religions). Please note: the idea that race is not a real thing is not a new idea, it is actually being taught in college Anthropology classes. My personal belief is that we should not classify based on "race," but perhaps on ethnic origin or cultural origin.

A HUGE problem I had with working for the census is that one of the questions I was forced to ask people was "Please choose one or more races - possible choices: 
African American or Negro
American Indian or Alaska Native
Asian Indian
Other Asian - For Example, Hmong, Laotian, Thai, Pakistani, Cambodian, and so on
Native Hawaiian
Guamanian or Chamorro
Other Pacific Islander - For example Fijian, Tongan, and so on; some other race)

It actually says, 'For this census, Hispanic origin is not a race' (this question followed "Please look at List C. Are you of Hispanic origin? [options on List C being: 
No, not of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin
Mexican, Mexican American or Chicano
Puerto Rican
another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin - For example, Argentinean, Columbian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadorian, Spaniard, and so on.])."

As an Anthropologist, I am quite opposed to this idea of separating people based on "race." Although the Census specifically trained us on the possibility of someone answering that their "race" was "Human," in which case we were to check "some other race" and write in "Human." I only had one person respond in this manner, and I almost have to agree with his response. We are all of the human "race," but for some reason we are forced to categorize ourselves and each other based on our ancestral origins. Will "American" be a race someday? "United Statesian?"

Okay, hopping off my soapbox (momentarily), and getting back to my soccer story. The Hispanic teams we play speak almost entirely to each other in Spanish, and their antics on the field are almost hysterical. Soccer is huge in Mexico, Latin and South America, so much so that many kids are playing soccer as soon as they can walk, so my team is given a run for our money when we play against these teams because of their superior skill. However, I have noticed that their antics on the field seem to mirror some of the antics used by professional players (and not just in Mexico or South America, but all over the world). They really over-dramatize getting knocked over or being fouled, milk the drama for all it's worth, and then get up to kick the penalty unwounded. However, because of the seriousness that soccer is given in other countries, the players on these teams take every single comment, every move, and every foul (or almost foul) very seriously as well. Therefore, it makes for a very tense field! About a year and a half ago, we were playing an all-Hispanic team, and I was playing either forward or midfield, on the right side. Our goalie or sweeper had kicked the ball high into the air and I ran to intercept it as it hit the ground, and the opposing player who was marking me was standing directly in my way and as I was looking up at the ball in the air and not paying attention to who was in my way on the ground, I ran straight into her back! She must have thought that I did it intentionally, because she immediately turned around and took a swing at me! I don't know what snapped in me, but I took a swing back and the next thing you know, we're rolling around on the ground, she's on top of me, pulling my hair and trying to hit my face! It ended with another player from our team loudly commenting about the player I was fighting with and she was jumped by another player from the opposing team. The police had to be called and my friend and I filed police reports against the two girls that attacked us. The reason I'm bringing this up is that the same type of thing happened this past Sunday to one of our sometimes-players. He ran into an opposing player and that player turned around and hit our player. Both received red cards, and in the ensuing chaos, the referee turned to throw off a spectator who had been blowing a whistle (confusing the players on both teams), and when another player on the other team ran to the spectator's defense, the referee red-carded her too, and then promptly called the game. So the resulting penalties were thus: a red card for one of our players and two for the other team, plus a yellow card for another opposing player who was arguing against the red card, and a yellow card for another of our players who had argued an earlier, unrelated, call. I'm sure that in the history of soccer, especially professional soccer, games have continued with teams playing 10 vs. 9 (if you don't know soccer rules, a red card throws the player out of the game, disqualifies them playing in the next game, and the team is forced to play short a player), although I have no factual evidence to back this up. However, on this particular occasion, the referee felt that it was necessary to end the game early.

Now, according to logic, the team with the most red-cards and the lesser amount of players forcing the end of the game should have had to forfeit the game to the team with the greater amount of players. At the time that the game ended, our team was losing 3-5, although upon a short team discussion, we felt that the overall possession had shifted and we had begun to dominate the game. We would have welcomed the opportunity to regain control of the game and bring it to a tie, if not make it a win. Upon speaking with the man from the league who attends all the games (Pancho, whom I absolutely love), he ruled that the score would stand as it was at the end of the game. Many players on my team felt that this was unfair and spoke their feelings, to the agreement of the rest of our team. However, as we play on a rec soccer league, the outcome of the seasons are not of great importance, although it is nice to be able to brag about your team winning the league.

It is at this point that I want to discuss unfairness. If I feel that something is unfair to a point that it will permanently effect someone or something, I will speak up and see if there are any changes that can be made. Kara's husband, Matt, has a gift for doing this, as I was privy to a few times over their recent trip to Colorado. I'm much more quiet, although if I have deep feelings about why something should be changed, I will make my feelings known to the proper people. Perhaps nothing bothers me more than when someone complains about something without attempting to change it in any way. However, there are times when it is virtually pointless to complain about something being unfair, because nothing can be done to change it. On top of that, a decision that has just been made about something is not always the last word. Quite often, in fact, are decisions made that are either repealed or changed after research is done on the possible outcomes. Personally, I felt that the outcome of our soccer game would not continually effect me or my life, and I wanted to be able to give Pancho time to research the rules of the game in case (and inevitably there will be) people do approach him to ask him to reconsider the outcome.

My point is this: sometimes, life is not fair. There are all kinds of things that happen to all of us at one time or another that we will consider completely unfair, and many of these things will be out of our control. Acceptance or denial to the school of our choice, being fired from or laid off from a job, or not being chosen for a promotion over someone less capable, these are some things that are essentially unfair, and that may effect a person for a very long time, perhaps the rest of their life. Whether or not we choose to take action against these injustices is what matters.

I have a second cousin who was born three months premature nearly 35 years ago. He has severe Cerebral Palsy and cannot speak or communicate in any way aside from a few verbal noises, eye movements and facial gestures. He and his family have faced a lifetime of health problems, hospitalizations, and an insurmountable amount of pain which I am unable to imagine. In the grand scheme of things, I find this to be UNFAIR. Dickie has a sister one year older than he is, and she is able to communicate with him in a way that no one else can. She understands that just because he cannot communicate verbally, doesn't mean he's not in there. He experiences pain and joy and anger and frustration and moments of laughter just like the rest of us, even if he's unable to express these things. This is UNFAIR. But is there anything that can be done for him? Is there any choice that anyone can make to change this family's circumstances? Not at this point, but I have never heard any person in the family describe their situation as unfair.

Is it fair that I have a mental illness that plagues me? Is it fair that some people are cruel to animals? Is it fair that the most amazing people sometimes face the most unimaginable circumstances? No, these things are unfair. I plan to keep this in mind the next time I find something unfair, to hopefully give me some perspective into how lovely my life is, and I would love for anyone who reads this to do that, too.

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