Monday, May 12, 2008

Powerful Beyond Measure

A couple of months ago, while on a flight (can’t remember to where again), I saw a movie that brought tears to my eyes. Now, I am not easily given to tears. I rarely ever cry. However, on this particular day, my tear glands were not supportive. The flood gate of my tears was thrown wide open and I couldn’t control tears from rolling down my cheeks. I am sure those around me would have wondered why an adult would be crying over a movie. About 3 weeks ago, I was privileged to see this movie again, and I had almost exactly the same feeling all over again. Aren’t you wondering too what movie I am talking about? I am talking about “Coach Carter”, a film directed by Thomas Carter. I strongly recommend you see the movie, if you’ve not seen it already

In 1999, Ken Carter, a successful sporting goods store owner, accepts the job of basketball coach for his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA, where he was a champion athlete. As much dismayed by the poor attitudes of his players as well as their dismal play performance, Carter sets about to change both. He immediately imposes a strict regime typified in written contracts that include stipulations for respectful behavior, a dress code and good grades as requisites to being allowed to participate. The initial resistance from the boys is soon dispelled as the team under Carter's tutelage becomes an undefeated competitor in the games. However, when the overconfident team's behavior begins to stray and Carter learns that too many players are doing poorly in class, he takes immediate action. To the outrage of the team, the school and the community, Carter cancels all team activities and locks the court until the team shows acceptable academic improvement. In the ensuing debate, Carter fights to keep his methods, determined to show the boys that they need to rely on more than sports for their futures and eventually finds he has affected them more profoundly than he ever expected.

There was a scene that really moved me. The school board had just voted in favour of ending the lock out imposed by Coach Carter on basketball because of the dismal performance of several of his players in their academics. Before the vote, Coach Carter had already made a speech. He said “You really need to consider the message you're sending this boys by ending the lockout. It's the same message that we as a culture send to our professional athletes; and that is that they are above the law. If these boys cannot honor the simple rules of a basketball contract, how long do you think it will be before they're out there breaking the law? I played ball here at Richmond High 30 years ago. It was the same thing then; some of my teammates went to prison, some of them even ended up dead. If you vote to end the lockout, you won't have to terminate me; I'll quit” After the vote, he headed for the gym to pack a few belongings but was amazed to see all his players in the gym, with their books, reading and helping each other. They opined that though the board forced the gates of the gym opened by their votes, they could not force them to play basketball. Coach Carter was really moved by their action. Just while he was still soaking this in, one of his players, Timo Cruz, who had once had a difficult time with him, stood up and read this quote …

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

I suggest you read this quote, at least 2 more times.

The coach was so moved, almost to tears, and couldn’t help but say “Thanks You” to the whole team. He changed his mind about quitting. The team’s performance in class became much better and they continued winning basketball games, only loosing narrowly in the state finals. Most of them later went on to College and made the best of their lives.

Now, look at the quote again. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. It is that we are powerful beyond measure. What a cool piece of writing. Nothing makes me sadder than someone doing something half minded because they are so scared of what might happen if they put everything into it and fail. You can do anything...yes anything, that you really make up your mind to do. Nothing can stop you, except you. You are powerful beyond measure.

Need I say anything more?

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