OPINION: We’re better as a team

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David G. Penn

I am a sports fan and probably place a little too much importance on sports…maybe. That said, there are often many valuable lessons to be learned from sports. One that comes to mind as we reflect on the current challenges in our community and country is a speech by a famous football coach Bo Schembechler. In exhorting his University of Michigan football team to greater heights, he told them:  

“No man is more important than The Team. No coach is more important than The Team. The Team, The Team, The Team….We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other.”

I cannot help but think that we, the people of our community, and, yes, most broadly, the whole U.S. of A., need to find that same belief. Too often lately all we hear are tales of how  “I was” wronged, cheated, robbed of freedom, not able to do what I want, victims and subjects of tyranny, and even the most outrageous claim, that what is happening here is similar to Nazi Germany. Most often, the finger is pointed at our neighbor, that is, a superintendent, school board member, doctor, health director, government official…or even, yes, a lawyer.

Really? Are you serious? Is that all there is? The complaints, the gripes, the wrongs? Is anything good anymore? 

I say it is time to recover and, more pointedly, to remember who and what we are. We are a community of neighbors. We work, eat, live, and sleep next door to one another. Our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews go to school together and play sports, dance and are in activities together.  We support each other with our business and patronage.  

Yet, too often, we are simply not on the same team. Too often now the loudest voices in the arena are critical, negative, blaming and, frankly, mean and hateful. 

Because we disagree on politics or issues of the day, does that mean we are no longer in this together? Not a team? My answer is a resounding NO.  We still must be a team.

But how do we restore and renew our team? We need to start by remembering the things we agree on. Yes, there are still things we agree on. We want to live in safe and livable neighborhoods and housing, to see our children educated and able to enjoy the fruits of childhood – sports, bikes, walks, playing. We enjoy going to our favorite local eateries and being able to go to watch our local high school students play football, soccer and basketball.  We want great health care for all of us.  We want to worship together.  And dare I say, we believe in our neighbors, their good will and good intentions.

So let’s hear more of that. Let’s thank our neighbors more. Let’s offer a smile, a helping hand, a positive word. Let’s be generous and kind in our conversations with each other, as well as with our time and treasures. Let’s respect one another. Let’s believe in each other.  Let’s encourage our neighbor. 

Maybe that sounds small or too “sentimental.” Indeed, maybe it is. But let’s turn the tide. Let’s move forward. Ours is a great community because it is filled with good people. And those people, all of us, make an unbeatable TEAM if we are a TEAM. 

So when we feel the surge of anger, frustration, or bitterness, take a moment, a deep breath and remember — The Team. The Team. The Team.

David G. Penn has practiced law for more than 25 years, specializing in education and employment law.  He is a father of four and grandfather of three. He’s isn’t a native Quincyan, but after 20 plus years here, he is proud to call Quincy home.

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