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May I have a word with you? For today, the word is “Magic,” and that’s “Magic” in quotes, as in Johnson.

As Hubby and i sat in a little sandwich shop this afternoon having our lunch, we were bombarded from both ends of the diner with sports on wall-hung TV’s. One couldn’t be sure what season we’re in, because there were clips of baseball, basketball, football and some sort of car racing. Happily, the sound was kept at a decent level and I, as a not particularly sports oriented diner, could eat in peace. Once in a while, though I did catch a bit of conversation between interviewers and various players. Most of the players, I’m sorry to say, sounded as if they hadn’t had access to educational systems or had failed to take advantage of same. These are the “leaders” our children want to emulate.

So where does the “Magic” come in? The days of daily Magic interviews are past. But here’s the sad thing. Regardless of education, or upbringing, or financial status, or anything else, this was a marvelously charismatic man, articulate on a level not often seen in such interviews . . . and he blew it. He had a chance not many of us get, to be an intensely positive role model for boys and girls of all ages, races, and socio-ecomonic classes. Did he make use of that? Oh, yes. One cannot doubt that he touched millions of kids, gave them inspiration and encouragement to aim for the stars. Even I admired him, and I know absolutely nothing about the game. But that was before.

The thing here is that one person, one particularly visible person, succumbed to the trappings that accompany the stardom. He’s not the first, he won’t be the last. As a matter of fact, it might be hard to find many who could resist all the goodies laid out in front of them. But what a waste! When his name is mentioned now, the tag end of the conversation (even if silent) is about something other than basketball.

I’d shake my finger in his face and say, “Shame on you!” but it’s not my place. It’s my opinion, and my opinion only. Actually, the shame is on anyone who doesn’t recognize his effect in the world and act according to an appropriate set of values. That’s true whether the effect reaches millions of fans or one small boy.

And if this seems to apply to you at all, let me say that I, myself, am both finger-shaker and shakee. I feel that I have a strong moral code to gude me, but I sometimes forget that a word or action is about more than just myself. If I slip up, you have my permission to remind me, or to waggle your finger in front of my eyes and say, “Shame on you!” because we all need it once in a while.

I wrote this some time ago, and chose not to publish. I was reminded of it by a post today Adulterers in Romantic Comedies Don’t Do it For Me by Mae East by Shannon Hadley.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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