The Real Football and the Good in Life

[The video above is from NotforSale: South Africa, and expresses the excitement leading up to the World Cup, not just as fans but as activists. It presents the fun and anticipation of working to end a terrible crime like slavery by giving human trafficking “the red card”.]

A few people have commented over the past few months that I focus on sad things, and that I must not be able to see the good in life.

I’m not sure life is quite so black and white. Focusing on real problems in the world and working to alleviate the suffering of other people does not mean living a life of only sadness and bitterness.

As a Christian I get to live by the example of Jesus, who wept and died young but who partied, too. Ghandi starved, but he starved full of love.

I have found that, as one commenter has said, ignorance is not bliss. Ever since I gave up eating slave-made cocoa, for example, every bite of slave-free, ethically grown chocolate tastes better, more whole. Chocolate tastes good, but it tastes even better when eating it is an act of love.

Successful activism doesn’t mean beating oneself up with guilt – or beating up others with guilt, either. It means looking at the world’s sufferings and problems with hope. Without hope, what is the point of action anyway?

The World Cup and other large sports events cause a rise in human trafficking. The Olympics displaces people, sometimes millions at a time, often without pay. Child slaves make our chocolate and our wars cause refugees crises. Those are facts.

It doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the World Cup – in fact, quite the opposite. We enjoy it with open eyes because we love it and don’t want it to be the source of oppression. We as consumers and fans are like parents with our children: we want to protect what we love from doing harm to others.

This blog focuses almost entirely on the victims of forced migration, including human trafficking – the most marginalized people in our world. The stories are sad, yes, but hope is powerful and truth is important.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn” in the same breath that he said, “rejoice and be glad.” Was he crazy? No, he was human:  fasting and feasting, interchangeably.

Join in!

Have you ever found that fighting for something you believe is right allows you to enjoy other things even more?

What would you add to the role of hope in doing good work in the world?

A Note of Thanks:

I gave the announcers a hard time yesterday for their light treatment of North Korea. But thank you, ESPN, for your commentators’ willingness to raise awareness for human trafficking.

Thank you also for recommending that FIFA provide tickets for the poor South Africans who traveled to the games just to stand outside and be there, even though so many free tickets probably won’t happen at this point. Your concern is a breath of fresh air.

One Response to “The Real Football and the Good in Life”
  1. Darrell says:

    Jesus was also a man of sorrows aquainted with grief. The game itself is the relief from the grief and sorrows or maybe just the mundane problems of our everyday lives. When the game is on the problems are not thought about until the game is over. Our minds rest in amusemment for a couple of hours or five or six hours if its a soccer game. Then we go back to the problems.

    The soccer hooligans or the rioters after an NFL game are just trying to extend the amusement a little longer or release some of the pent up rage that builds up from the day to day life they face.

    I fight for what I believe in everyday usually for several hours and it allows me to perhaps have a more comfortable view of myself. Perhaps some day God will say well done to me.

    The role of hope in doing good work is what makes good work possible. When hope of success is lost work stops because it is then just a meaningless gesture or an act of defiance. As battle after battle is lost to the forces of evil we think of new strategies to give us hope of eventual victory so we don’t give up and retire to our decks and TV’s. As we struggle on day after day we know that there is a day coming, a day certain, when it will all end and we will have fought our last battle. We dread that day our whole lives and try everything to delay it but we know that it will come eventually.

    Absent God its all hopeless and meaningless. There is nothing much except materialism and selfishness to kill the pain. Sports is very helpful in taking our minds off it temporarily or indefinitely if its a soccer game.

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