As a kid, my parents did their best to teach me not to hate anyone. Every time the phrase would escape my lips I would receive a very stern lecture on just how strong a word “hate” is, and that feeling such a vile emotion only succeeds in rotting one’s self from the inside.
Looking back on that now, I see what a good thing they were doing as parents. They were teaching us to learn forgiveness and understanding, and trying to steer us away from negativity and anger. To live without hatred is to live a life of love. And the world would be a better place if all the hate we feel for one another was simply replaced by love.
Of course, they also told me to pick my socks up off the living room floor, to stop trying to sell my baby sister in the classifieds and to never drink my milk straight from the carton. Long story short, despite their best efforts, I didn’t always listen. I did leave random socks about the house, I did try to sell my sister to families overseas, milk was not a beverage in our home I would have suggested for guests and my heart did on occasion find hatred.
For instance, I hated Officer Kirk on “Happy Days” because he was always coming down on Fonzie. The Fonz was my guy, as shown prominently on my lunchbox and pleather jacket, and Officer Kirk was just such a square. Totally uncool.
Unfortunately, my hatred was not contained only to Officer Kirk. No, I equally despised Lucy van Pelt, that smug little girl who would pull the football away from Charlie Brown just a split second before he was going to finally make that kick. Charlie had hopes of glory when he would line up for that kick, and just when he had the taste of promise on the tip of his tongue — nothing but air. He was devastated. Crushed. A man who no longer had a dream.
I kind of felt like that last Sunday as I was watching my Baltimore Ravens drive the field late against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. To set the stage a bit, the winner of that game would advance to the Super Bowl, the Patriots were winning by three points and the Ravens had moved to within scoring range with under a minute to play.
On second down, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw a perfect pass to Lee Evans in the end zone. Evans cleanly snagged the ball in his hands, the Ravens players erupted on the sideline and a Patriots defender smacked the ball away from Evans’ grasp moments before it would have been ruled a probable game-winning touchdown.
Flacco threw an incomplete pass on third down and Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff came out on the field to kick a routine field goal to send the championship game into overtime. I opened up a second bag of Tostitos, ready to enjoy some extra football.
And then Lucy pulled the football away from Cundiff.
Well, not exactly. The ball was where it was supposed to be, but Cundiff shanked it badly. You know those kicks that sometimes happen during football games where it seemingly goes right over the post, and you’re not sure if it was good or not? Yeah, this wasn’t one of those kicks. Cundiff missed it by about three counties.
Ravens players appeared to be in shock as the cameras caught their reactions on the sidelines. I couldn’t breathe. The Patriots players, coaches and fans erupted in celebration and the announcers were stumbling over each other trying to capture the unthinkable. I couldn’t breathe.
My eyes searched the field for penalty flags, or a streaker, or something that would suggest that all wasn’t lost. I tried to hit the “Rewind” button on my remote control, hoping against hope that I could somehow cheat the laws of time and give the Ravens one more chance.
It did not happen. Lucy pulled away the ball again.