Dad and Tiger
So this morning my heart tugged even more when I browsed the newspaper and came upon a large picture of Tiger Woods in the sports section – his eyes were downcast, his expression was downcast. There was still evidence of a kid in this picture – a sad kid who was in the painful process of trying to make sense of a seemingly senseless world. He looked so vulnerable! Under the picture was a 2 inch caption that said ‘CUT!’ Evidently, for the first time in a decade, he didn’t make the cut in a major golf tournament.
Now I could care less about golf. I tried to play once in college – I had no skill and even less interest. If I ever began to take up golf, I know several people who would personally take me to a doctor for evaluation. The game makes no sense to me – except for miniature golf. But golf was a passion of my father’s. He took an early retirement and moved my mother to a major golf resort so that he could play every day. He even proudly got a part time job at the major hotel at this resort. And I can’t tell you how many Saturday and Sunday late afternoons were punctuated with TV golf.
Part of the sadness of this picture on the day before Father’s Day for me was the fact that my father couldn’t stand Tiger Woods. He found every opportunity to put him down. Why? No reason other than Mr. Woods is African American. My father grew up in a very racist home in a pretty racist city and never opened his heart to the slow and tortuous journey of acceptance that many in this nation have inched towards. OK, maybe overall people have moved maybe an inch and half since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. opened us to the sin of racism and oppression. But my father didn’t really move even that inch and a half.
What tore my heart out at this picture in the paper today was the fact that Tiger Woods exemplifies so many traits that my father would have admired in a white guy. He was close to his father and wasn’t afraid to show it. He isn’t a flaming grandstander. He is clean-cut and respectful of others. He probably doesn’t have even one tattoo – this would have been high on my Dad’s list of great traits. Sometimes I have wondered if Tiger is too good to be true, but this is the type of hero that my father always held up.
The sin of racism – so senseless, so tragic, and always very much a part of us. We are all part of a culture that accommodates racism -- to wit, Darfur, other horrors going on in Africa, the wall going up along our border and the hate being spewed against ‘illegal immigrants’. Not to mention the invisibility of the poor among us, who are largely African American and Hispanic.
My heart breaks open because I am part of this culture and part of this racist tide. I am a person of privilege who often places my own comfort and security ahead of doing what I can to staunch the tide.
I pray that I accept my father’s limitations and shortcomings while empowered through the everlasting and unconditional love of God to spread that love to all the corners I can reach.