Warriors, knights or gladiators?

This is just my opinion but it’s one I’ve held for many many years.

I believe that gladiators still fight today.

No. I’m not kidding. I have seen them. You have too. You just may not have called them gladiators. Now, I’m not referring to the lackeys that follow Olivia Pope around like rabid lemmings from one calamity to the next. And no I am not referring to the short sword wielding warriors who looked up expecting to see a thumb in the up position or the down.

No. I’m referring to the incredible specimens of human achievement that we call athletes. But no, you may be saying. How can these be gladiators? There are no swords. No shields. No tunics. No Julius Caesar impassively reviewing the combat before him. How are athletes gladiators?

Because they are not warriors, no matter what fans in Golden State may say.

Warriors fight for nations with noble purpose. The defense of nations or ideals yet unrealized. The warrior fights the good fight and does so proudly and with honor. The warrior is in a class unto himself or herself. The warrior flies the colors and those colors do not run. The warrior is the hero to all and completely selfless in all endeavors great and small. The warrior seeks no personal glory but for the benefit of those who cannot fight on their own. The warrior is what we need most today: heroic. Ergo. Therefore. The athlete is not a warrior.

So what is an athlete? A knight? No. I used to think so. But not anymore. So what is he?

I’ve already told you. A gladiator.

Gladiators will fight but only when told to by his commanding leader. The gladiator goes into the arena with full intention of facing his opponent with all the weaponry at his disposal. Ready to issue the death stroke at the behest of the ruling influence in his life. (Read, coach) The gladiator fights but not to save his own skin and definitely not for another day. To save something for tomorrow, is foolish to the gladiator because there may BE no tomorrow. The gladiator will not fight unless he is properly motivated. So the gladiator is beholden to only the ones who pay him to fight. Reward him with riches and concubines. Shower him with desires of avarice and riches both subtle and gross.

The gladiator leaves his chambers in the uniform he is provided, takes up his weapon and enters the field (or arena) of combat and then proceeds to show what he’s made of. He dresses sometimes with the same symbols of his fellow gladiators. They all will stand shoulder to shoulder in an effort to appease the crowd. The blood thirsty crowd. The jaded arena owners. The attentive but insatiable media crew. The well fed and ever dissatisfied owners of the gladiators. Make no mistake gladiators are fighting for the glory of their team and that team is usually sponsored by the owner, city or state that houses them.

That will be why you see the Miami Heat, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Galaxy, New Zealand All Blacks and Manchester United. They all are not representing corporations but their geographical birthplaces.

Yes they move. (Colts fans now this as well as the Minnesota Lakers fans do). But they are still gladiators. It’s just that their telegraphic loyalties have moved because the owner told them they must. Or be sold into slavery….. I mean traded, to another city.

Find your voice

Perhaps you have at more than one time or another in your life heard someone who’s words and thoughts uttered through outstretched lips has quickened your spirit. Made you feel. Made you inspired. Brought you to your feet. Caused you to shout with joy.

But when you try to speak you only wish you had half their voice. You find that your voice is tinny. Tiny. Pusillanimous. And you gave up.

I urge you to find your voice. God gave you a voice. His voice. Use it.

There have been many times I wanted to speak one on one with youths who I knew have had important and insightful things to say, but didn’t dare speak. Because they lack the language or wherewithal to pipe up. But where does this fear come from from? Frightened to speak their minds. It’s a tragedy.

I’ve seen the fear form in the dark corners of the mind. Shadowy places that hide things like judgmental parents. Dark realms like unwitting teachers. Sinister places like callous clergy. Evil places like bully’s. Hateful places like racists. Those places bring with them silence. They crave it. They plant and cultivate it in our youngest minds in hopes that by cultivating silent youths they will one day see equally silent adults. Silent and tolerant of the weakness they keep and fear they cling to.

What makes me happiest is to see a child who was scared to death of the stage, stand up on that stage and just stand there. Don’t have to do anything. Just to be there.

You see, it takes bravery beyond words just to be in the place where you belong. To stand in the spot that God tells you to be. Despite what the critic and hater may say so loudly. Oh yes they have much to say about that frightened child. But they are there. And look who is not. The critic. The hater. The racist. The ones who groused the hardest and longest. They are silent now and unable to stand up because the child has.

But no child does it alone. No child can. It’s up to you and me and all of us to help. To be an encourager. An uplifter.