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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Extend a hand

I've been a bit taken aback by comments I've heard twice recently about how awful it would be if rich whites took in poor blacks in order for them to play football for their alma maters al a the movie, The Blind Side. In a recent conversation, someone equated that scenario to slavery. Huh?

How many 17 year old young men living in the projects of any major city would feel exploited if they were taken to live in a good house, go to a good school, get their own car, a tutor, and a guaranteed college admission as long as they played a sport? They'd be lining up for this deal and they would have a clear conscience doing it, I'm sure.

I'm the biggest bleeding heart you will ever meet, but I have no problem with this kind of supposedly strings-attached assistance.

I think people who object are not thinking about this from the perspective of the young man - who wouldn't want to leave hopeless, grinding poverty for something better? No one.

I will go even further - I think that people who object are trying to assauge their guilt - their knowledge that they would not be willing to do this for someone, to help someone in this very personal and material way. The best way to avoid the guilt is to insist that such an arrangement would be wrong on principle.

We're not talking about robbing cradles or snatching kids from their parents. We're not talking about destroying intact families. We're talking about people like Michael Oher who had no one taking care of him. He had no support system of any kind. The help he got was a galaxy, a solar system away from what he was coming from.

As for me, I would love to see my friends and neighbors make such a commitment to another person, even if it was based on a trade, even if the help was supposedly conditional.

How many McMansions have a spare bedroom that could be put to better use? How many lives could be altered?

The idea that not everyone is like the Twohys - not everyone would give their help with respect and integrity, just seems completely fatuous to me. Anyone who received that kind of support would be better off from where they started. Period.

And I don't believe that anyone could get that involved and remain untouched. That's a big point of the movie - that the Twohy family was ultimately affected at least as much as Michael Oher, if not more so.

Everybody wins.



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