Sport has been one of my most loyal friends from the age of seven years growing up in Belmont, playing in the narrow lanes, Belmont Boy’s RC school yard, the Queen’s Park Savannah, through my move from competitive sport to sport administration and leadership.
We have been inseparable. Ours was a single parent home (mother). Sport and the values of sport played an important role in my childhood—sport was a surrogate father, a much needed source of fun, a teacher of values such as perseverance, determination, discipline, integrity, fairplay, passion, striving for excellence. Sport kept me out of trouble.
I experienced first hand the essential role sport can play in the life of a child or teenager. I owe sport and its core values a debt of gratitude. Over the Easter holidays I was able to reflect and do some reading.
I re-read Henry David Thoreau’s essay ”The Necessity of Civil Disobedience” and Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s Self Reliance. Church service reminded me about the life of Jesus Christ, I browsed books about Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King junior, Mother Teresa and not for the first time, I have lost count how many pondered on ‘IF’, the poem by Rudyard Kipling.
Within each of us there is a voice that whispers, ‘take the risks, stand up for what you believe and stay faithful to your convictions. Do what you believe is right.”
Then, outside us are the voices that scream. ”Don’t be a fool, you’re going to fail, be like everyone else, if you do what you want you will be selfish and hurting others.” these voices urge us to conform. But throughout the history of mankind, those who have made a difference have listened to the voices and music they hear in their soul and proceeded independent of the opinion of others.
For doing so, they are labelled troublemakers even misfits. Henry David Thoreau was vilified and thrown in jail. The drum beat you hear within yourself is your connection to your soul’s purpose. It will continue to nag you when you ignore it in an attempt to conform.
Many of us ignore our drum beat and choose to suffer in comfort. Ralph Waldo Emerson said nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
He championed ethics over conformity simply to appease society. He made the point that those who don’t give priority to the integrity of their own mind will often give good reasons why they do what they do.
My inner voice whispers honour and live by the core values of sport and the principles of good governance and do the right thing not some of the time but every time.
If I took the advice of the great souls such as Jesus, Mandela, King, Mother Teresa, Thoreau and Emerson, I would be reminded that the choice to listen to your inner voice means that you will incur the misunderstanding of those around you.
But it is the integrity of your own mind that you must first consult. In other words you must seek your sense of what is right to formulate your opinion. If as an example you are treated unjustly or unethically, that is not an excuse to ignore your inner truth. If you meet with anger and resentment, that is not a reason to react with anger if you’re inner truth is peace. You will have to seek solace in the comfort of your inner strength.
To walk the talk there must be harmony between the integrity of your own mind and your daily conduct. When words are no longer making impact, behaviour is the most effective way to communicate.
I end with a reference to a line in Rudyard Kipling’s poem: “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run…….You’ll be a Man my son!” Brian Lewis is the Honorary Secretary General of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee http// www.ttoc.org. The views expressed are not those of the TTOC.