A Very Serious Sickness
by Major Chick Yuill –
Last Saturday morning was entirely free from appointments for the Yuills, an opportunity for a slow and relaxed beginning to a slow and relaxed day. At least that’s what Margaret thought! She was very surprised, not to say annoyed, when I got up at 5:30 a.m., left home before 6:00 a.m. and drove from Pasadena to Santa Monica. She had forgotten–for, alas, she has no interest in such things–that Saturday was the day when my favorite soccer team, Glasgow Rangers, met their great rivals, Glasgow Celtic, in the final of the Scottish Cup. And, bliss beyond description, I had discovered that a certain tavern in Santa Monica was showing a live satellite transmission of the game. The eight hour time difference between the West Coast and the United Kingdom meant that a three o’clock afternoon kick-off in Glasgow meant a 7:00 a.m. start in LA.
I know my readers are passionately interested in the noble game of soccer (!) and you, of course, are now desperately anxious to know if the trip was worthwhile. Well, it was. Rangers won by a solitary goal; but that mattered little to those of us who follow their fortunes. It may have been a narrow victory, but it was gained at the expense of our long-time rivals and it did represent a clean sweep of all the trophies to be won in the entire Scottish soccer season. There was much revelry and singing amongst the aficionados who filled the room and who had cheered so lustily for their distant heroes.
But sad to say, as I drove back to Pasadena, the taste of victory had a bitter edge. I had been in the presence of a very serious sickness. And while I had experienced the Scottish strain of the disease, I recognized it as a malaise that reaches to every part of the world.
You need to understand that the two great Glasgow soccer clubs have their historic roots in the sectarian loyalties that divide the city. Rangers have always been associated with the Protestant majority; Celtics were founded to provide a source of entertainment for the poor Catholic immigrants who crossed the Irish Sea at the turn of the century. Over the years the two teams have become the focal point for the bitter, tribal rivalries that have reached such havoc in Northern Ireland in the last three decades. Mercifully, Scotland has been spared from that level of violence, but the same lethal cocktail of deep-rooted bigotry and cultural blindness is evident.
That’s why, amongst the good-nature banter that always makes sporting rivalries such a source of fun, there were the anti-Catholic songs and the declarations of hatred. And here’s the thing that makes this kind of prejudice so dangerous. Wherever you look in the world, it is always aimed at our nearest neighbors; Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, Serbs and Albanians in Yugoslavia, whites and blacks in some American cities, blacks and hispanics in others, Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland and Scotland. It’s bad enough to hate people on the other side of the world, but when your hatred is aimed at the people who live next door, the potential for hurt is almost unlimited.
On one or two occasions, I’ve detected such feelings of deep prejudice between people in the same Christian community. I’m ashamed to say, I’ve even encountered it in the Army between neighboring corps and sometimes between fellow-Salvationists in the same corps! Usually it’s not a problem over a specific issue. That would be relatively easy to deal with. It’s a combination of past history and present prejudice. The one good thing is that I’ve no difficulty knowing where Jesus stood on this issue. The parable of the Good Samaritan settled that once and for all. Your neighbor is anyone in need and when you are faced with that need, class, color, creed, cultural differences and past conduct are totally irrelevant.
So if any of my fellow Scottish soccer devotees read New Frontier, I’ve got a message for you. If you don’t get rid of the very serious sickness that contaminates the beautiful game in my homeland, I am going shift my allegiance to baseball. Mmm, maybe not. Origami or needlework might be slightly more exciting…