Basketball, politics, and living with intention

Think For Yourself


 I was watching a high school girls’ basketball game tonight, and I made the comment that one team seemed to play without any intention. Some familiar with sports may understand what I meant, but I am not sure my daughter did. I explained that the girls on one team dribbled in circles, threw passes that looked like they lost control of the ball, and took shots without even looking at the goal. I once heard a coach ask his player, “Why do you always dribble into the corner?” The guard had a habit of dibbling into the corner and would often get trapped and turn the ball over. The coach explained that you should never dribble somewhere just to be moving. You should only go somewhere when you have a plan or a reason to go there. He was talking about playing with intention. There should be a reason for the passes you throw, and your intentions should be clear to everyone in the gym. If you are going to take a shot, it should be clear to everyone that you were looking at the goal and shooting. Some teams play fast, reactive basketball, and they rely on getting their opponents to play their game. The best teams can be reactive in the moment, but they play most of their game with intention. What does this have to do with a political opinion piece? First, I just really enjoy girls’ basketball, but mostly it has to do with intention.

You can go through life being reactionary. You have bills so you earn money. You get sick so you go to the doctor. You react to things as they appear in your life. It is hard to be successful reacting to things. You may be able to stay in place, but it is unlikely you will get ahead. Successful people live with intention. They make plans. They set measurable goals. They foresee and prepare for challenges. They may encounter surprises, but they have a safety net in place. It took me half a century to understand the truth about living with intention. I have lived a reactionary life for so long that it has become my normal mode of operation. When I try to live with intention it is like I am turning a toy wagon into a sports car. We need to teach our children to live with intention. I am reminded of a comedy routine where a parent asks his child why they broke a lamp, and the child says, “I don’t know.” We should never accept “I don’t know” as an answer. We should explain that they either intended to break the lamp or they acted without intention. They acted without considering the possible results of their actions. This leads me to the political point of this meandering article.

Over the course of my life, I cannot even count the times I heard someone say that they were voting all red, all Republican, all blue, or all Democratic. I have also heard individuals say they were voting for a candidate because they would never vote for the opposing candidate. Too many Americans live a reactionary political life. They honestly don’t care enough to get into the weeds of the issues. Talking heads tell them how to vote and how to think. They latch on to a party with no intention of ever understanding what that party stands for or objectively evaluating its performance. We all complain that nothing ever really changes in Washington, but we timidly accept whatever candidates the parties thrust forward without demanding more qualified offerings. We mindlessly go through the same old motions, fight the same tired arguments, and wonder why we get the same results. That is the definition of insanity. You shouldn’t be going through the motions. You should be acting with intention, and you should always think for yourself.                     


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