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Old-fashioned democracy in action

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By Rev. James Snyder

One of the great joys the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly indulge in is attending our grandchildren’s softball games. The downside to all of this is being forced to watch other grandparent’s grandchildren play. Not to say they are not good, however, they do not quite measure up to our grandchildren. It is not their fault. After all, children cannot pick their grandparents.

Our granddaughter was up during the first inning and when the other side came up to bat I got a little bored with the game. It was then I noticed some unusual activity across the field. There were no teams playing on that particular ball field, but I noticed a cluster of kids and I was interested in what they were doing.

When I got there, I saw an impromptu kickball game. Where they came up with a soccer ball at a baseball game is more then I could figure out at the time. But they had one, and being kids it is impossible for a ball of any nature to lay around idle.

I seated myself in the bleachers. Being the only adult in the vicinity I looked on with rapt amazement. It did not take very long for me to notice that out there on the field was good old-fashioned democracy in action. There was no race or gender distinction, they were just kids playing kick ball.

It did not take long for me to understand the bottom line was simply having fun together. And, working together was a natural thing. It takes adults to introduce hatred and bigotry into what we do.

I did not understand the rules they were playing under, but it was quite evident that everyone out there understood the rules. From my observational point the rules seem to be a little more fluid than I was accustomed to. But it worked on the field.

Every “out” was challenged and vigorously debated. Then, a consensus was reached so they could continue the game.

Even those kids understood that if you did not come to some compromise the game could not go on. After all, they were out on the field to play.

I heard some very sound wisdom come from one of the kids. “Aw, let them have it,” he said, “we’ll still beat em.” That said, there was a resounding cheer on both sides and the game continued.

The unusual thing about this game was that there was not one designated pitcher. The pitcher on any side was anyone who could get the ball. If you had the ball when the batter was up you were the pitcher.

Consequently, there were several pitchers milling around the pitcher’s mound. When the ball came to the infield there was a scramble and finally someone yelled, “I got it.” He was the pitcher.

I also noticed that the lineup of batteries was open to negotiation. The order was not the same for each inning. When the team on the field was ready to come to bat everybody ran toward the batter’s box shouting the number that they were in line. There was a little tussle but in short order the line was formed.

It did not make sense to me. Being an adult I like things to be as they were. For example, if you were batter number nine the last time, you should be batter number nine this time.

Then I heard a voice that cleared up this whole matter.

“Charlie didn’t bat the last time,” this voice yelled above the chatter, “so he gets to bat first.”

I never thought of it that way. However, isn’t that the fair way to do things? If they played by adult rules, little Charlie would hardly ever get a chance to bat.

The whole philosophy of the game, as I observed, was not who was better at the game but who didn’t get a chance to bat the last time around. On this particular playing field, everybody was equal. Everybody seemed to look out for everybody else.

Sure, there was vigorous debate and objections. But everybody compromised in order to fulfill the bottom line, which was, “let’s have fun.”

Then all of a sudden, I heard somebody yell, “Stop the game.”

The whole game came to a standstill while everybody looked toward the person who was yelling. Then I heard, “there’s a frog out here.”

I was not sure what was going to happen, but everybody ran to left field where the frog was. Then I saw somebody bend down and pick up the frog while everybody gathered around him. I was not sure of the plight of the poor frog.

Then I saw the whole group move toward the fence and then the frog was released to the deafening cheers of everybody on the field. I was amazed. The entire game was stopped in order to clear the field of one little frog.

Then the game was over. I did not have to ask who won. Everybody won.

As I walked away, I thought of how what I saw illustrated something in the Scripture. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV.)

Considering one another should be the very core of democracy.

The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road. He and his wife, Martha, live in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 687-4240, or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net. The church Web site is www.whatafellowship.com.