I was listening to my local sports talk radio station over the weekend. One of the people who called into the show expressed his amusement that a previous caller had referred to a professional baseball team as “we”. He felt it was silly for a grown man to pretend that somehow he was involved in the personnel decisions of a major league sports franchise simply because he was a fan. The caller he was referring to had made comments along the lines of “We need to get a right handed bat” and “Our bullpen is no good.”
Now it certainly is quite childish to speak this way. But I would argue that perhaps this should be encouraged. If people have this need to be part of a large group made up of people they’ve never met but share some similarity, then this seems to be the most harmless.
What are the alternatives? There are many that have the potential to lead to violent conflict: Race, Religion, Ethnicity, Geographic Proximity. For example if you obsess over your race to the point that you feel superior based on your physical appearance or ancestry, the potential consequences are obvious as evidenced by history. Now there are some groupings you could see as more rational and beneficial that also satisfy this need: a fraternity or a small business. And of course Religious/Ethnic organizations don’t have to define a person’s existence to the point where they cause violence (including government threats of violence to redistribute wealth).
But the point I’m trying to make is that it tends to be rare, at least in the USA, for rival sports fans to engage in any violence or persecution against each other. People can joke that Yankees fans have a superiority complex, but they don’t really believe deep down that they’re better than Red Sox fans or Mets fans just because the baseball team they root for wins more games.
In the good ‘ol USA there is one organization that manages to get the vast majority of citizens to believe in it, root for it, and to refer to it as “We.” Of course I’m talking about the Federal Government. “We” invaded Iraq. “We” need to pass healthcare reform. “We” won WWII. When did this start? When did the citizens of this country start pretending in a childish manner that they are the government? When the Empire sends its storm troopers around the globe to replace local tyrants with their own puppets, why do so many of us act like we all are doing it?
I got news for you. Barack Obama doesn’t “represent” me anymore than George Steinbrenner ever did. I’m no more responsible for winning the Spanish-American War than I am for the New York Giants winning the 1905 World Series.