The Greatest of all Time (GOAT). The first time I heard the term was referencing Michael Jordan as the GOAT of basketball. If this is so, and it probably is, MJ was known for his power, grace, adaptability on the court and an uncanny ability to sink the big one at the buzzer. A pressure player if there ever was one. The higher the odds the better he performed. He lived for the pressure moment. He always took the shot.
Another GOAT, this one of ice hockey would have to be Wayne Gretzky. To NHL fans he’s known as the Great One. The highest scorer of all time with an amazing knack to be in the right place at the right time, usually in front of the net right about the time he put the puck into the back of it. The Great One is credited with one of my favorite quotes. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Needless to say, he took the shot.
When it comes to the Constitutional sports (if there is such a thing) the First Amendment is my nominee for GOAT. This champion of rights and justice is a multi-faceted gem of pure grace and genius. The literal summation of hundreds of years of humanity’s struggle to read, think, write and speak for oneself without prior restraint from Church or State.
When Johannes Gutenberg printed his first Bible he opened the door to meaningful religious reform and institutionalized freedom of speech and press. Soon, the world became functionally literate and started sharing ideas, including political dissertation in a manner never imagined in content or scope by your average Medieval dweller who, in all fairness, was justifiably more occupied with trying to survive the Black Plague than with becoming an independent and enlightened thinker.
Today, the Black Plague is behind us. But another epidemic, this time spread by racists and racism, has raised its ugly flea-head and, unfortunately, managed to infect the national discourse of politics, and policy.
At one of my recent speaking engagements I was asked why our elected officials seem in no hurry to eradicate this incubating, festering, and spreading quickly to the weak minded among us bacterium Yersinia pestis president before his vile pestilence spreads any further into our national psyche. The helplessness and frustration in the room was palpable. If I could sum it up in a sentence it would be “What good is free speech if no one is listening?”.
The sadness filled me for there is no singular answer. If you are reading this you are the Resistance and this movement like all good treatments takes time to heal and, eventually, cure. To resist is not so much an event as it is a process. A reformation involving mind and heart over matter, the triumph of good over evil. The antidote is free speech, more speech, still more speech and, importantly, your own speech. For the repetition of truth, no matter how softly spoken will always defeat fake news, falsehoods, misdirection, half-truths and outright lies and deception generated in most part by fear, partisan politics and self-interest, no matter how loudly or bombastic in its deliverance it may be.
The internet in general and social media but the latest ganglia and nervous system of the body politic. Call your Congressperson, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Say what you will, wherever you are, as often and as many times as you can. If you don’t, you’ll never connect to the people out there, people like you, and me. The bottom line is take the shot as you already know what will happen if you don’t.