Flipping through the New York Times over the weekend, I was struck by two powerful “no” stories, coming on the heels of my last post.
One was about a Ghanaian-German player on an Italian soccer team who, in reaction to racist taunts from fans of the opponents, kicked the ball into the stands, removed his jersey and walked off the field. His entire team went with him. This was not the first time he and other players had been jeered. It was probably not the first time he had the urge to walk off the field in response to racial insults. And because the soccer authorities had failed to adequately address this problem, he took it upon himself to say NO. It seems as if Italy and the rest of the world are now listening.
The second article featured the President of Uruguay, a former guerrilla who has said “no” to the trappings of his role, preferring instead to live in his own home on land where he and his wife grow chrysanthemums. According to the article, “His net worth upon taking office in 2010 amounted to about $1,800 — the value of the 1987 Volkswagen Beetle parked in his garage. He never wears a tie and donates about 90 percent of his salary, largely to a program for expanding housing for the poor.”
“For democracy to function properly, he argues, elected leaders should be taken down a notch.”
Sometimes, just one person saying “no” can open all kinds of possibilities.