Winning, Success, and Fairness

When The University of Virginia beat Auburn to advance to the NCAA finals, there was some controversy about a missed double-dribble call against Virginia.  The winning shots were scored by Kyle Guy due to a penalty.  Virginia was ecstatic at advancing to the finals.  Naturally, the TV interviewed Kyle Guy, because he saved the day for Virginia by making three foul shots to bring U VA into the lead with 6.1 seconds left on the clock.  I was struck with Guy’s comments.  He said something like, “I don’t know about the controversial call; this feels great, I can’t say how fantastic this feels.”  Guy’s team won, and, despite controversy, they won.  End of story.

A part of me says, “But was it fair?”  Regarding the whole question of fairness, in my own life, I am still resentful about an incident that happened to me in 8th grade.  In auto shop, we all made model cars out of wood.  There were two categories of model cars–wooden wheels and rubber wheels.  My car had rubber wheels and when we raced our cars down an inclined track, my car beat all the other cars.  I came in first.  Then we raced the winner of the rubber wheels (me) against the winner of the wooden wheels.  As our cars raced down the track, the wooden-wheel car jumped out of the track because a screw was sticking up.  I won it all.  But it wasn’t fair, so I said we should do the race again.  Trouble is, the guy who was supposed to catch my car at the end of the track had left, my car slammed against the wall, and the guard that protected the axle broke off leaving the axle exposed.  The shop teacher thought me incredible arrogant and allowed everyone in the class to challenge my win.  With my car’s axle exposed, my car kept getting stuck on the track.  The result was I came in last.  When we went to our next class, the girls asked who won.  They told them the guy who now won.  When they asked how I did, the guys said I came in last–with no clarification.

I don’t write this to vent a resentment from 8th grade.  Rather, this is a reflection on winning, success, and fairness.  The University of Virginia won against Auburn.  That was the result of the game.  About the missed double-dribble call–how many other calls were missed on either side that, to be fair, would need to be added to the results?  God would know how many missed calls there were in the whole game.  No human could, most likely.  We mortals make the best calls we can, we will never be perfect, and the final call stands.

This expands into other areas.  It looks like affirmative action makes some minorities succeed due to their minority status.  This may not seem fair.  But it counts.  Before affirmative action, minorities were consciously discriminated against and marginalized.  That certainly wasn’t fair.  So if success or winning is due to controversy, affirmative action, or efforts to level the playing field, it counts.  Fairness is an extremely vague measure.  It is naive to think that merit and competence will win out.  “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  Laws like affirmative action, which seek to return fairness into an unjust system, are necessary, as are the results of affirmative action.  Fairness is at best an ideal.  If we find success amid controversy, if we find success due to favoritism, if we fail due to laws like affirmative action, it’s all part of the mix.  Accept success with grace.  Accept failure with forbearance.  While the world may not be fair, determining what exactly is fair is far beyond any human’s calculation.

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CALENDAR AND SOUL

And the calendar marks another

Year, month, day, hour, minute, second

Calendar and clock

Time and the soul’s time

Long ago, a crushed career, crushed future, crushed life, carved time in my soul

Giving my soul relations

Before and after, what I am now, since

Pain

And moments at church camp, church, with pastors, watching the sun, stars, synergy at interfaith

seminars

Mark states in my soul, relations

To the material world

Calendars and clocks

Year, month, day, hour, minute, second

To meaning, moment

Revealing and retreating, manifesting and hiding

Holiness

And Blessed time with a beloved

Grandparent, parent, brother, sister, child, grandchild

Friend, colleague, fellows, congregation

Leaving lasting moods measuring remaining

Movements of the soul

Community

Meeting the world, a world of people

Success, triumph, embarrassment, achievement and failure

Summa Cum Laude, Harvard, Ph.D. articles published, a book, professor, pastor, money, poverty

Personal achievement, recognized success, successes

Status

Time marking—soul and calendar

Year, month, day, hour, minute, second

Pain, holiness, community, status

Measuring, containing, marking time

Age and state

Time and the soul

Another year today

And all that has made me

A Life

There was me

Me getting by

And that’s about it

Just getting by

 

Then there was life

And that life was you

Is you

 

Life now

Living now

Loving now

Loving life

Loving you

 

Even alone, you are in my life

Even in pain, want, struggle

Your pain, want, struggle

My pain, want, struggle

I live, have life

Have a life

Have you

 

In success, accomplishment, happiness

Yours or mine, yours in mine, mine in yours

I live redoubled

Love redoubled

Love life

Love living

Love you

Places and Friendships and Goodbyes

I’m a long way from home

And those customs I’ve outgrown.

Each new direction’s pointed toward success

In this foundationless infinite regress.

 

Here alone, I’m feeling

How many times

I’ve said goodbye

To those I’ve loved, the places I’ve known.

 

Guess I’ve done what I had to

Or what seemed to be good moves–

The kind of thing I should be glad to do

But for all those good times and broken loves.

 

How long can I survive

Moving around

Wanting a home

A long-time friend, someone to trust.