Coaches and Rules
We all like to kid coaches and gym teachers for perhaps having what (on the outside) appears to many to be a fun, simple and stress free job but my favorite educational thinker and philosopher of all time was my youngest son’s 9th grade gym teacher. My wife and I were attending back to school night and “Coach” as he was affectionately known was giving his annual back to school night talk to the parents.
“There are only 2 things I ask from my students, he said, and if they do these two things then we’ll get along fine. #1: Do what I say. Why? Well, because I’m the teacher and I said so. And I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t want you to do it so just do it because that’s what I said. And #2: Do the right thing. And what do I mean by that? Well, I think we all know what the right thing to do is, so let’s just do it and that’s all I ask.”
There you have it. A streamlined philosophy of life with only two simple rules to live by. It mat have been presented simply and a bit eccentrically by the beloved old coach but in essence aren’t these really the two simplest of rules that when violated by others leave us feeling angry and disappointed and frustrated with our fellow man? Think about it. It’s the basis of all strife in the world.
Rule #1: Do what I say. What the coach meant by this was that the world has rules and everyone needs to follow them. If there is a boss, a leader, and elder, an authority then you need to do what they ask when participating in the groups that they lead. Every situation or event or task in life has rules that dictate and direct certain behaviors. People need to follow and obey what these rules say in order to maintain society. But what if our leaders or society tell us to do something that is inappropriate or wrong? Well then rule #2 supersedes or takes over.
Rule #2: Do the right thing. And although the clever or shrewd lawyer in us all may say, “How am I supposed to know what the right thing is?” Don’t we all know what the right things are? Isn’t that what defines us as human beings? Isn’t that what makes us believe that we are so special among all of the creatures on the planet? We claim to know who God is and so we do know the difference between what is “right” behavior and what is “wrong” behavior. We may not always admit to it but from a very early age (certainly by the time we reach school age) we know if we are being bad or good, don’t we? It’s what we base our rule of law on. Only someone who is insane can claim a defense of, “I didn’t know right from wrong when I committed that horrible crime.”
How do we know right from wrong? How do we know what morality is? We know because all humans are innately selfish. Among the first things we learn in life is to care about ourselves and our personal well being… and as lifelong selfish individuals we know what hurts us and what makes us mad and what injustice feels like and so consequently we also know what hurts others, i.e.: the same things that hurt us!
So do we know what the right thing to do is?
Oh yes we do.
So like the coach says, Do it! Now go play!