The 2021 Major League Baseball season has begun, and on April 15th, 2021, the country celebrated Jackie Robinson Day to commemorate the anniversary of Robinson's 1947 major-league debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, which brought a tragically belated end to the color barrier at the highest level of professional baseball.
On the very same day, the following instances occurred:
A former employee of FedEx entered a facility near Indianapolis airport and conducted a mass shooting, killing 8 people (including four from the local Sikh community) and then himself
Video was released of 13-year old Adam Toledo being shot by police in Chicago
The United States announced its troops were leaving Afghanistan after 20 years of warfare, America’s longest war engagement, and
India reported a record number of coronavirus cases as the global struggle with the pandemic continues, albeit at a reduced rate in the US
No doubt, there is a lot going on in the world for us all to digest and ponder. I wonder what Jackie would say about our modern society, especially over the last 13 months.
Similar to my last interview with the deceased Sigmund Freud, (https://austinsrosenthal.wixsite.com/austinfromaustin/post/my-interview-with-sigmund-freud-art-as-a-palliative-measure-in-these-chaotic-times), I am using Jackie’s own words in quotations below.
AustinFromAustin: Mr. Robinson, you are a legend and trendsetter, thank you so much for joining Social Musings with AustinFromAustin. What pieces of wisdom do you have for us as we make our way through 2021?
Robinson: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." "The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time."
AustinFromAustin: How would you define ‘first-class citizenship’?
Robinson: "The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has, is his personal dignity." We need to make sure that every American enjoys not only their own dignity but the possibility to realize the American dream.
AustinFromAustin: I have been dying to ask you about last summer’s Black Lives Matter movement. Almost 75 years ago, you broke the color barrier in baseball and inspired so many others who have come after you.
Robinson: Witnessing the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others reminded me that “During my life, I have had a few nightmares which happened to me while I was wide awake.” I wish I had been dreaming, but unfortunately, this all occurred in real life.
AustinFromAustin: I gotta admit all the doom-scrolling I do before bed does result in crazy nightmares...It is interesting that you were one of the first to voice your opinion on standing for the National Anthem.
Robinson: “I cannot stand and sing the National Anthem. I have learned that I remain a black in a white world.”
AustinFromAustin: Do you think that modern-day athletes are sending an important message to society through their words and actions?
Robinson: I have always said that we “aren't seeking anything which is not good for the nation as well as ourselves. In order for America to be 100 percent strong -- economically, defensively and morally -- we cannot afford the waste of having second- and third-class citizens.” “There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.”
AustinFromAustin: Amen. Speaking about freedoms, many Americans enjoy the freedom to bear arms, yet we are seeing a resurgence of gun violence recently. What are your thoughts about this?
Robinson: Many people know that “I never cared about acceptance as much as I cared about respect." Regarding my personal views, to which every American is entitled, "I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... All I ask is that you respect me as a human being." Taking another person’s life in cold blood is the ultimate sign of disrespect.
AustinFromAustin: So we need to learn to respect not only each other’s differences but also our common heritage as Americans?
Robinson: "Life is not a spectator sport. If you're going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you're wasting your life." As evidenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, Americans should try to peacefully effect change by listening to each other and trying to find the best common ground we can find as a society.
AustinFromAustin: I am blessed to be able to take in and share your wisdom. Thank you so much for your honesty and courage, for which you have become famous.
As I am writing this on Sunday, April 18th, there are reports of a mass shooting in my hometown of Austin, Texas after reports of an overnight shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The acceleration of mass shootings in this country is not a surprise if one considers sociology theory. The more people see a certain behavior (in this case mass shootings), the more it becomes “acceptable” to those who have a tendency to overcome their personal threshold and then emulate the socially “unacceptable” behavior. According to sociology, the more that mass shootings occur, the more mass shootings will follow unless we can find a way to reinforce the existing social norm that killing others is NOT OKAY.
Today, I visited the Aspen Art Museum, which was the last cultural institution I visited in person on July 3rd, 2020, when it reopened after initially being closed due to COVID.
The museum is displaying a cool movie titled Freak Power which documents Hunter S. Thompson's run for Sheriff in Aspen in 1970. Hunter S. Thompson was exasperated with escalating police brutality against young people and anti-war protesters, highlighted by the incidents at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. His radical platform for Sheriff (so deemed at the time) called for disarming the police, focusing on environmental crimes and legalizing marijuana.
Wait - are we talking about 1970 or 2021???
Amazing how history repeats itself and that great thinkers such as Jackie Robinson and Hunter S. Thompson are usually ahead of their time.
Hope everyone is safe, happy and healthy out there.
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