Well, every four years there’s a little thing called the World Cup, and this past weekend it kicked off, literally, in South Africa.
The US Soccer Team members we met a few weeks past took the field against England, and defying some expectations, held their own well enough against the European powerhouse, ending their game in a draw. The bars and pubs here in New York were full of happy fans, and the good cheer was contagious, even causing me to smile when I shared a subway ride with a group of young women who had painted “USA” and little American flags on their cheeks. I needed something, anything, to make me smile.
The week leading up to the World Cup was light on work, and heavy on distressing news. There was the ridiculous, ludicrous brouhaha over honoring Mother Theresa with a special lighting of the Empire State Building. There were the loud protests over proposed mosques in THREE New York City neighborhoods. There was the heavy volume of negative reaction to Dr. Hawking’s interview with Diane Sawyer on “World News Tonight..” And finally, there was the heartache of two grandparents dealing not only with the murder of a grandchild, Caylee, but with the tragedy of a daughter jailed for that murder. Cindy and George Anthony shared their story with ABC News’ Ashleigh Banfield, and the story they told was a stark reminder of just what the really important things in life are, and the need to appreciate and hold dear those things.
We wrapped that interview on Friday, and that evening as I got home and turned on the TV the first thing I saw was the interview of the US Soccer Team members we had shot with Robin Roberts a few weeks ago. It was all smiles, and hopeful in many ways. High hopes for the team, and high hopes for the host nation of South Africa, which is still finding itself after shedding the toxic blanket of apartheid. So imagine the sadness I felt when I heard that Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s conquerer of apartheid, would not take part in the opening celebrations of the World Cup, due the tragic death of his own granddaughter in a car accident, amid suspicions that her driver was drunk. So, perhaps not really an accident, but the tragic murder of another innocent child, another little girl denied the chance to make her mark upon the world.
Ok, ok, heavy stuff, I know. But from time to time we all need a reminder, we all need perspective, we all need to stop and look around and see where we are and how lucky we are to have what we have. Not shiny trinkets, but food and shelter and people we love and love us back, even if we sometimes feel unlovable. If you’re a parent, these realizations have an extra bit of bite. And one more thing…. GO USA!!