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Cal Ripken Was Right, and Madison Proves It

When Cal Ripken, Jr. was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he gave a speech that looked back on his career and thanked many of those whose support helped him do what he did so well, for so many years. He started by thanking his teammates and the Baltimore Orioles organization, and then he said this:

I know some fans have looked at The Streak [his record 2,632 consecutive games played] as a special accomplishment, and while I appreciate that, I always looked at it as just showing up for work every day. As I look out on this audience, I see thousands of people who do the same, teachers, police officers, mothers, fathers, business people and many others. You all may not receive the accolades that I have throughout my career, so I’d like to take the time out to salute all of you for showing up, working hard and making the world a better place. Thank you all.

What a contrast to Republican politicians like Wisconsin governor Scott Walker or Speaker of the House John “So Be It” Boehner. Ripken’s “You all may not receive the accolades that I have . . .” is a supreme understatement.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Milwaukee, Jerome E. Listecki, took note of what is being said by Governor Walker and his supporters in Madison, and called it for what it is — immoral (emphasis added):

The Church is well aware that difficult economic times call for hard choices and financial responsibility to further the common good. Our own dioceses and parishes have not been immune to the effects of the current economic difficulties. But hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers. . . .

It does not follow from this that every claim made by workers or their representatives is valid. Every union, like every other economic actor, is called to work for the common good, to make sacrifices when required, and to adjust to new economic realities.

However, it is equally a mistake to marginalize or dismiss unions as impediments to economic growth.

Marginalization and dismissal are the two chief weapons of the GOP when it comes to workers and unions. But it’s kind of hard to ignore bagpipes playing in the capitol’s rotunda to the cheers of hundreds or thousands of protesters.

Imagine a small business owner talking about his or her employees in public in the manner in which the GOP speaks of government workers: “My employees are rude, pushy, demanding, overpaid, and lazy. Some of them are incompetent, but I can’t get rid of them. . . . Say, it’s almost lunchtime. I’ve got a great restaurant here  — why don’t you all come by for a meal?”

Yeah, that’ll work. The employees will really respond well to a boss like that, the customers will flock in, and business will go through the roof.

Or, you know, not.

Ripken was right, and Madison proves it. His words were spoken years ago, but the folks who are protesting in Madison are the ones who have worked without much thanks for years. To borrow from Ripken, I’d like to thank them for showing up, working hard, and making the world a better place — not only in their jobs, but in their protesting as well.

Video h/t: jessarp24

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.