Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tim Tebow and Rejoicing in Goodness

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not that in to professional sports.

Olympics? Love ‘em. College sports? GO COUGARS! (And Rock Chalk Jayhawk!)

But the NBA or the NFL? Eh.

But once in awhile, the professional sports world will interest me. Like when the Red Sox finally broke the Curse of the Bambino. Or when Jimmer was drafted into the NBA. Or more recently, when Tim Tebow came under fire (and still is under fire . . . though not as much after the Broncos lost last Saturday) for being so good. Obnoxiously good, some people say.

My question is: what’s wrong with being good? Why is it such a crime to do well and be good?

You’d think people would be happy that there is a successful NFL player who doesn’t abuse his girlfriend or kill dogs. But instead of being glad that there is another person to add to the too-small handful of role models in professional sports, many people mock Tebow for his goodness and his purity. (Saturday Night Live, anyone?)

You’d think we’d applaud goodness when it’s so rarely found.

I’m not saying that everyone mocks Tim Tebow for his character. And I’m not saying that he’s the only good professional sports player out there. Because that’s not true. Nor I am saying that he’s perfect. Because let’s be honest: nobody on this earth is.

But it does bother me that people are so quick to mock others who are good and successful.

So . . . why do we do it?

Based on my limited experience of observing human nature, here are three possibilities:

1) Good people make us ordinary people feel guilty. No one likes to see someone doing the right things we know we should be doing. And instead of changing our behavior, we simply blame the other guy for being “self-righteous” or “too preachy” . . . even if he’s not being preachy and simply living a good life.  

2) “No one can be that good.” People tend to be pessimistic about others. Instead of rooting for others, we wait for hamartia, or that tragic flaw, to rear its ugly head. We wait on the edge of our seats for their fall from grace—after all, who doesn’t love a good Greek tragedy? 
But why do we insist that people can’t be good? Why do we wait for them to “become like us” rather than trying to better ourselves and become like them? It seems uncharitable to me. I, for one, want good, solid people in this world. I think we should cheer for them rather than bring them down.

3) Jealousy. It’s easy to become jealous of others’ successes, especially when they have it all. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be ridiculously talented, good-looking, and rich? And when a person is genuinely good, we can’t find anything to say, “well, at least I’m better than them in this or that.” Jealousy is a hard thing to suppress, especially when you want what the other person has. But if we want to be truly happy, we have to learn how to control envy.

Something that I’ve thought about recently in regard to this is the concept of “rejoicing with them that rejoice.” In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our baptismal covenants require us to “bear one another’s burdens, that they might be light [. . .] and mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:8-9). These are beautiful promises to make with God and toward each other, and when I obey these covenants, I am happy.

But I’ve also realized how important it is to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” Now, I’m not saying that this should be added to the baptismal covenant. But I do think that being genuinely happy for others when they righteously succeed is important to becoming a saint. In order to have charity, we have to learn how to rejoice in others’ righteous endeavors and successes. Because charity is “kind, [and] envieth not” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Besides that, learning how to be happy for others makes you a happier individual. J

Not that I’m perfect in “rejoicing with those that rejoice.” It’s a work in progress. But a worthy goal, nonetheless.

So, although I don’t care much for professional sports, I will applaud Tim Tebow for his good character. We need more people like him in the world. 

1 comment:

  1. Bravo! This is something I've pondered quite a bit as well, and I agree with you. It's quite possibly harder to rejoice with someone than to mourn with them, for in the latter we have sympathy and are feel that we are serving, while in the former we are asked to set aside pride and be happy for someone when they have achieved something that perhaps we wanted. I think it comes back to pride and the preference of self above others. It's difficult to admit that we're not doing all we can or that we feel we're not good enough, so we do the next best thing and try to pull people down to our level. (Although those perceptions of "levels" are almost always incorrect, because it's impossible to really compare one person to another...) It reminds me of President Benson's "Beware of Pride" where he mentions that one of the manifestations of pride is found in withholding praise from others when they deserve it. But even though it's the natural response, it is silly because, like you said, we really do need more good people in the world and we shouldn't be discouraging them by mocking or withholding praise.