On September 26, 1998, my wife and I were the guests of a family friend at the University of Mississippi – SMU football game in Dallas, TX. The family friend was associated with the Ole Miss athletic department, so our seats were, of course, smack in the middle of Ole Miss football’s most ardent supporters/boosters. It was early in the season and neither team’s expectations for the year were ambitious and the crowds on both sides were small.
As the game progressed, we found ourselves more and more engaged in conversation with those around us – stories of college days in Oxford, highlights of seasons gone by, who now lived where.
The mood was relaxed and sociable, even while the play on the field remained tight. Suddenly, two of our stadium neighbors turned their attention toward the section where the Ole Miss student body was seated. A nudge, a pointed finger, and then without a word, they stood quickly and began to descend the stairs. I don’t recall anyone wondering aloud where the two had gone, or why, but everyone was curious as they returned with a Confederate Battle Flag.
By way of explanation they offered, “We a’int about that!” Apparently, the two observed some students preparing to unfurl the Stars and Bars in support of the visiting Rebels, but felt quite strongly, evidentially, that such a symbol was unbecoming of their beloved university.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be so perplexing as to why we don’t see more of this “Police Your Own” behavior in the world. As Harry Potter’s Professor Dumbledore famously stated, “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”
I get it, it’s hard. It’s so much easier to insult, criticize, bully, oppress, and/or belittle those that aren’t like us, but to quote Dumbledore again.
“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”
Imagine a world where more…
• Christians stood up to other Christians who are not Christ-like.
• Whites actively called out the actions of bigoted whites.
• Non-gay men defended gay persons against discrimination, insult or worse.
Imagine if we focused on what “We” can do, not what “They” should. Imagine.