FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Reflections for Peacemakers and Educators

by

As a huge fan of the Miami Heat, my heart was broken twice this summer: First, when the team was overwhelmed by the San Antonio Spurs to lose the 2014 NBA finals, and again when Lebron James announced he is leaving the team to return to his home, Cleveland, to play for the Cavaliers. Despite these disappointments, though, I believe that losing Lebron has much to teach us about dignity in the face of adversity, leadership, and forgiveness—all important themes for peacemakers and peace educators.

First, throughout his years in Miami, and in particular during the 2014 NBA finals, Lebron James was the model of nonviolent response during incredibly tough moments. When Indiana Pacer Lance Stephenson tormented James physically and mentally, even at one point blowing in his ear in an attempt to get a rise, James responded by devoting himself to his game, playing harder but not retaliating physically. This is the type of resistance used by famous peacemakers like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.—it is not ignoring the affronts so much as channeling them into even greater commitment to the goal.

Second, Lebron James has modeled leadership on and off of the court. In addition to his obvious prowess with the basketball, he has helped catalyze renewed interest in using sports as a platform to challenge injustice. When African-American teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, James and other Heat players led the way in protesting racial stereotyping and racial profiling by donning hooded sweatshirts while posing for team photos. No athlete was more outspoken in criticizing Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racism and demanding action by the NBA. Further, James has been an important financial supporter of Boys and Girls Clubs and has contributed more than a million dollars worth of computers and athletic gear to disadvantaged youth through his Lebron James Family Foundation.

Third, Lebron James is demonstrating the importance of forgiveness in his return to Cleveland. When he left in 2010 to play for the Heat, Clevelanders reacted poorly, burning his jerseys in effigy. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wrote a scathing letter in which he called Lebron “selfish,” “heartless,” and “callous” and referred to the decision as a “cowardly betrayal.” Gilbert guaranteed that his team would win an NBA title before the Heat, which of course did not happen. This letter even stayed on the team’s website for the last four years, only to be removed days before James’ decision to return to the Cavs. Despite this nastiness, however, Lebron James has been nothing but gracious and forgiving as he has explained his decision to return home. In his essay for Sports Illustrated, he commented only on the importance of family and roots, modeling the sort of forgiveness peace educators seek to inculcate.

In sum, I will miss seeing Lebron James in a Heat jersey as much as every other fan of the team. But I admire him for his values, his leadership, and the gifts he shared with Miami. And, in another important reminder for peacemakers, I am viewing this change not as abandonment but rather as a chance to rebuild, to grow in a different direction, and to highlight that one individual is not a team.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

More articles by:
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail