I shouted in exultation with the rest of my fellow San Franciscos when Romo threw that last called strike and the deed was done. World Series Champions! A mere two years ago, I joined the collective throng in my neighborhood who whooped and hollered for over an hour, hundreds of us filling Irving Street while cars drove by honking. This year I just opened the doors and experience it all vicariously from a distance. Not quite the same, but hey, I was jet-lagged and the game had been a long one.
It is one of our peculiarly human thrills to be carried on the wave of mass euphoria, one of the ways we momentarily lose our complex identity and just give it up to the sound and the motion. We become a mere cell in a jubilant body and experience a sense of belonging that wipes away all the things that keep us apart and lonely and isolated. I suppose it’s one of the reasons being a sports fan is so attractive.
But then there were all the sullen and gloomy and dispirited Detroit fans, heading home slump-shouldered in the rain and the cold. One would hope that one group’s happiness wouldn’t necessarily entail another’s sadness, but that’s the way of the world when it comes to sports competitions. I suppose that’s why I prefer another mode of belonging, choosing the inspired concert where the jazz fans in the club can leave refreshed and the opera crowd next door walk out into the same streets with a common feeling of renewal. One is not at the expense of the other.
So now what we San Franciscans all hoped for collectively has come to pass and for a brief few days, the city will be buzzing with excitement and pride. The players will bask in the glow of a long season of work well-done, an earned sense of satisfaction affirmed by and made visible to the world. And then life will resume its normal pace, all our feet back on the earth, coming down slowly through the levels of leaping, dancing, walking and let’s face it, eventually plodding.
Now comes the next moment of collective hopes with winners and losers. Exactly one week from today, some newscaster will give me the results that will either have me shouting for joy or screaming in terror. But this outcome is so much more profound than a few moments of yee-haw—the stakes are exponentially higher than which city feels happy for a few days. This will determine people’s jobs, people’s health, people’s education, people’s rights. It literally will decide who may live or who may die, both here and far away. It will define the nation’s level of intelligence, of compassion, of care for each other and care for the world.
People, if your mind can see beyond a one-issue soundbyte, if your heart is to open both to those you look like you and those who don’t, if your brain can distinguish between someone trying to preserve privilige for an elite-uncaring few and someone inching us further down the road of human rights and an inclusive democracy, please get yourself out to vote next Tuesday. And in the meantime, talk to all those distant cousins and next-door neighbors who still may be undecided.