Response to publisher's editorial
October 3, 2008 · Updated 2:57 AM
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a letter to the editor expressing my concern about the Little League pledge and also thanking the league for all they do to make baseball available.
I'd like to respond to the publisher's question in last week's editorial, which asked why shouldn't Little League take a leading stand on matters of theology or patriotism.
The potential danger is in the often confused mixing of the two. Especially in today's political environment, instructing kids to pledge in a nonreflective way (seemingly out of the blue for those who haven't attended Opening Day before) that they "trust in God" and "love (their) country and will respect its laws" to me seems misguided. The assumption that kids will or should make such vows in order to play baseball - without any prior notification, discussion, or follow up - is a faulty one, in my opinion. Saying a pledge with integrity is a far weightier and intense expectation than listening to our "National Anthem" at the start of a game.
I am not concerned about the overall presence of God and patriotism in baseball or life. I personally am highly committed to a Christian faith journey. My ears are perhaps oversensitive to words that link theology and patriotism as if godly people were necessarily patriotic and patriotic people were necessarily godly. Surely many are, but these are big matters for each of our kids to thoughtfully sort out before making a pledge.
I appreciate Little League's commitment to offer character-building experiences. My family has enjoyed outstanding coaches and team camaraderie. The second half of the pledge better names what everyone has knowingly gathered to participate in: "I will play fair and strive to win. But win or lose I will always do my best."
When I re-visit my initial letter from two weeks ago, I can see how words meant to be politely concise might instead have come across as curt. The tone we read into things often depends on where we are coming from in the moment. I apologize to anyone I may have unintentionally hurt or unnecessarily offended.
Respectful conversation is a "grace-full" thing. I realize I hold a minority opinion on this, but I feel an obligation to communicate it nonetheless.
Thanks again to SVLL for the baseball they generously offer.
Lee Carney Hartman