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A Game With Heart: Soccer and Global Warming

Finding unity and community for the common goodNow that the U.S. is out of the World Cup, how can we maintain that fragile unity that we began to feel while watching our team play? Perhaps, global warming is the answer.

Since 2007, this country has been in an economic crisis. As unemployment soars, the impact of the recession is deepening. The response, understandably, is a feeling of scarcity due to more competition for fewer jobs. As competition increases, people tend to act more defensively in their own self-interest. We get stuck in our heads trying to figure out the changing rules of the game.
This intensified individualism, in a land where “looking out for number one” has been a guiding mantra already, casts us, individually, as Davids up against a Goliath of corporatism: oil companies, Wall Street, and the military industrial complex, for starters. There is not much joining together because, in the words of Ani Difranco, “Sometimes it’s all that we can do just to hold on.”

Now, let’s throw technology into the mix. The internet culture of ways to meet up (such as social and professional networking sites) possibly perpetuates our isolation inasmuch as it replaces direct encounters with others and we get stuck sitting in front of a screen instead of going out into the physical world, including the natural world.

Many of the causes we have championed as environmentalists and activists – such as recycling, composting, better fuel efficiency, tougher standards towards pollution, organic food, sustainable agriculture that does not disrupt communities, and accessible health care – have been adopted by big businesses as practices that draw in customers as we become more conscientious consumers; and so the impetus for organizing is not as strong as it was when we had more to push against. As a result, we do not know what our core organizing principle is. If we can get beyond the economic fears (which are very real) and our individualism (which feeds the fears) we must grapple with the question of what unites us.

The great thing about soccer is that it’s a game with a lot of heart. You can’t pass the ball, shoot the goal, block the shot, or cheer for the game half-heartedly. In the current effort to save the planet and ourselves from being eliminated prematurely, perhaps we can bring the same passion to the environment that we brought to South Africa for the World Cup. I can see it now: groups of friends gathering in houses, bars and cafes all over America tuning in to the oil spill, cheering the response team every time a dolphin or sea turtle is released back out into the wild. Ole, ole ole oleeee.

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