Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. In Defense of Discipline

 

shutterstock_172852367If you’re fortunate, at some point in your life, you’ve played a sport on a championship-level team. Luckily, I have. However, if you’ve played a lot of team sports, you’ve also played on mediocre or bad teams. Unluckily, I have.

You can tell the difference.

On good teams, the players compete to make themselves and their teammates better. They run the extra mile. They don’t jog when they’re supposed to be sprinting. They urge each other on, and pay attention to what everyone is doing. They criticize — not attack — each other when they fail. They encourage each other (although soft pleasantries aren’t required). They push. They strive. When you’re surrounded by champions, you can’t help but push yourself. And when you fail, on championship teams, your teammates pick you up. Get ‘em next time. Don’t give up.

Bad teams are just as identifiable. They goof off when they’re supposed to be working. They look for ways to evade notice. They wallow in excuses. Ain’t worth it, man. And when a teammate fails, they laugh. Give up, man. You wonder why they’re bothering to play if they aren’t trying to win.

So often, the difference is discipline. Discipline postpones gratification. Discipline is the opposite of gratification. More often than not, it’s abandoning gratification altogether and embracing excellence or achievement or duty instead. Discipline isn’t about pleasure (sooner or later); it’s about accomplishing something meaningful.

Sports are one thing. Life is another.

For instance, I confess to a visceral loathing of the Sexual Revolution, and the current culture that’s built upon it. It isn’t about the sex; it’s about the rejection of discipline. I’m all for women being treated as equals, and to the degree that the Sexual Revolution freed women, that’s a good thing. But the baby is out with the bathwater when the Sexual Revolution endorses the “freedom” of rejecting any limitations or discipline, usually by portraying any discipline as a Victorian taboo. Instead of fixing a problem, they threw out the discipline and called it “freedom.”

It all seems so “bad team” familiar. No discipline. Excuses instead of responsibility. Tearing people down instead of constructive criticism. Failures being exploited and publicized, instead of encouraging people to come back and do better. This is what bad teams do. I’ve seen this before. I’ve felt this before. This is how it felt to be on a bad team.

Reading the always-interesting Kevin Williamson at NRO yesterday, it struck the same chord. Kevin is covering the story of the Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco, who had the gall to insist on […gasp…] Catholic discipline. The San Francisco media and much of the population reacted in horror. How dare the bishop call for such discipline! As Williamson mentioned, the bishop’s opponents have now resorted to reminding everyone how imperfect Cordileone is — after all, he has a DUI! That immediately struck a chord; this is more bad team behavior.

More and more, I’m going back to those lessons I was taught as a kid, and seeing them played out in real life. Good teams, bad teams, and all of the habits, attitudes, and behaviors that spell the difference.

There are 24 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Member

    I enjoy Mr. Williamson; but I always learn and profit from you, KC! Thanks and AMDG!

    • #1
    • March 4, 2015, at 9:25 AM PST
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  2. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You’re complete right.

    If only we would emphasize the kinky side of discipline, the left would fall for it in a moment!

    • #2
    • March 4, 2015, at 9:36 AM PST
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  3. Guruforhire Member

    my high school swimming team dominated our county, i mean utterly crushing the competition. I am still stuff of legend, and being the object lesson on the kid with no talent but managed to place well due to just plain trying harder, even now 15 years later.

    There is not an athletic bone in my body.

    • #3
    • March 4, 2015, at 9:57 AM PST
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  4. Jennifer Johnson Inactive

    KC Mulville:For instance, I confess to a visceral loathing of the Sexual Revolution, and the current culture that’s built upon it. It isn’t about the sex; it’s about the rejection of discipline. I’m all for women being treated as equals, and to the degree that the Sexual Revolution freed women, that’s a good thing. But the baby is out with the bathwater when the Sexual Revolution endorses the “freedom” of rejecting any limitations or discipline, usually by portraying any discipline as a Victorian taboo. Instead of fixing a problem, they threw out the discipline and called it “freedom.”

    Preach it, brother.

    • #4
    • March 4, 2015, at 10:35 AM PST
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  5. Mike Rapkoch Moderator

    “they threw out discipline and called it freedom.” That, KC, is maybe the best sentence I’ve ever read. The worst of the SF situation is that legislators believed themselves empowered to ask Archbishop Cordileone to explain his position. As if everyone must bow to the government. The Archbishop was decent enough to respond. He could have told them to stuff it. Maybe he should have.

    • #5
    • March 4, 2015, at 10:41 AM PST
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  6. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve not really understood the popular perception of Christianity – Catholicism in particular – as exclusionary or hypocritical or guilt-laden. A faith which depends so much on 1) recognizing our inherent weakness, and 2) preaching forgiveness and mercy both here and the next life should be pretty well inoculated against these charges.

    I get it when someone was soured by some small minded and incorrect teacher, parishioner, nun, parent, etc. who taught more cultural views than religious ones. I understand how earnest practitioners have trouble reconciling different teachings for themselves. These are pretty basic and foundational facets, though. Is the level of small mindedness and error within the Church even more extensive than I had thought?

    • #6
    • March 4, 2015, at 12:07 PM PST
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  7. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I do see how the Church needs to improve how it teaches the faith to the faithful and anyone else too. Easier said than done, I know. In parish life, manpower is everything and unfortunately it’s all too scarce of a resource. It’s difficult to impose better standards on teachers and transmitters when the actual choice faced is to have someone teach/transmit at all vs have no one do it.

    • #7
    • March 4, 2015, at 12:10 PM PST
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  8. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I hope the archbishop uses the opportunity to to some evangelization. Though it shouldn’t be necessary at this basic level, it is necessary and this is an opportunity not to be wasted.

    • #8
    • March 4, 2015, at 12:12 PM PST
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  9. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I never played on any teams. I never understood the point of putting a ball in a net, or a puck in a net, or a ball past a line painted on the ground, etc. It all seemed like pointless busywork to me.

    It’s yet another example of my unnaturally early curmudgeonhood.

    • #9
    • March 4, 2015, at 12:28 PM PST
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  10. Jennifer Johnson Inactive

    Ed G.:I hope the archbishop uses the opportunity to to some evangelization. Though it shouldn’t be necessary at this basic level, it is necessary and this is an opportunity not to be wasted.

    Agreed. The Archbishop is correct on the merits. Retreating to “religious liberty,” would be a mistake.

    • #10
    • March 4, 2015, at 12:36 PM PST
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  11. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Ed G.:I’ve not really understood the popular perception of Christianity – Catholicism in particular – as exclusionary or hypocritical or guilt-laden. A faith which depends so much on 1) recognizing our inherent weakness, and 2) preaching forgiveness and mercy both here and the next life should be pretty well inoculated against these charges.

    I get it when someone was soured by some small minded and incorrect teacher, parishioner, nun, parent, etc. who taught more cultural views than religious ones. I understand how earnest practitioners have trouble reconciling different teachings for themselves. These are pretty basic and foundational facets, though. Is the level of small mindedness and error within the Church even more extensive than I had thought?

    You sound like a long-time believer. From the outside, I think that things look very different:

    • Christianity is “exclusionary” because it teaches that non-Christians go to Hell.
    • Christianity is “hypocritical” because Christians advocate a strict, traditional morality that they don’t even follow themselves.
    • Christianity is “guilt-laden” because it teaches that everyone is a sinner. In fact, it goes farther and teaches that people are not even able to escape a life of sin on their own.

    These views are serious obstacles to faith for the non-believer, and often prevent the non-believer from even listening to or considering the Gospel.

    I agree with you that these perceptions are erroneous, based on an incorrect or incomplete understanding of Christian theology.

    • #11
    • March 4, 2015, at 1:32 PM PST
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  12. Boss Mongo Member

    Arizona Patriot:

    You sound like a long-time believer. From the outside, I think that things look very different:

    • Christianity is “hypocritical” because Christians advocate a strict, traditional morality that they don’t even follow themselves.

    I can sling counterarguments at all the points, but this one is a pet peeve of mine. Show me the man who never violates his own moral code, and I’ll show you a monster.

    Most branches of Christianity realize that man, fallen, will violate the Church’s morality. Hello, Jesus dying for our sins.

    Failure, either chronic or acute, does not equal hypocrisy.

    If my goal is to bench-press 400 lbs, but I walk into the gym and can only put up 315 lbs, I have failed, but am I a hypocrite? Should I stop going to the gym?

    • #12
    • March 4, 2015, at 3:48 PM PST
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  13. Boss Mongo Member

    Coming at it with a view toward discipline, I advocate two sports that I think all young men should play:

    -Football*, to learn how to be a member of a team, understand the whole weakest link concept and conversely to glean a little knowledge on the concept of “we, together, are better, faster, and stronger than each of us separately.”

    -Wrestling, because when you’re out there on the mat, there is no one to blame for failure but yourself. Whether you had the discipline to learn the techniques, set aside time for additional conditioning training, and develop the ability to grapple on, even when you’re smoked.

    Notice both of these are contact sports. I think the element of physical duress, and the direct feedback that a little bit of pain provides, accelerates one’s learning curve and appreciation of discipline.

    *Since moving to S. Florida, I’m more than willing to consider motions that lacrosse is an acceptable substitute for football.

    • #13
    • March 4, 2015, at 4:11 PM PST
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  14. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville

    Boss Mongo:Notice both of these are contact sports. I think the element of physical duress, and the direct feedback that a little bit of pain provides, accelerates one’s learning curve and appreciation of discipline.

    I played football and rugby, so I agree with you on those.

    On reflection, I’d also include any team-intensive and interactive activity, especially one that requires training and practice. When I was younger, I was in several plays, even a couple while in the Jesuits … in its own way, it had that same distinction between good team v. bad team, and the behaviors that make the difference.

    Members of the military, I suppose, are the quintessential team players – but not being a vet, I don’t feel qualified to speak about that.

    • #14
    • March 4, 2015, at 5:37 PM PST
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  15. Mister Dog Coolidge

    KC Mulville:Members of the military, I suppose, are the quintessential team players – but not being a vet, I don’t feel qualified to speak about that.

    I played very little organized sports, and what I did play was when I was fairly young, so I wasn’t really relating to your analogies in that sense. However, I immediately related them to the various commands I was attached to in the Navy, and the differences between a really good ship and the ship you can’t wait to transfer from.

    • #15
    • March 4, 2015, at 9:42 PM PST
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  16. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Yes, participating in sport offers a concentrated example of the dynamic. Almost a lab experiment for the proposition. However, even for those who never participated in sports (or those of us whose glory days were over by the eighth grade) the dynamic is observable just about anywhere.

    I worked at Boy Scout summer camp for seven seasons. Some of those summers were spectacles of team work, dedication, accomplishment, and fulfillment for staffers and campers alike. We were operating at the height of efficiency and effectiveness, just like Buck’s dogsled from The Call of the Wild after the enmity and strife disappeared with Spitz’s death at Buck’s paw. Other seasons at camp were awful in every way. Once I began to be assigned greater responsibility, I quickly learned how one good and dedicated staffer could be worth four sour layabouts with bad attitudes.

    • #16
    • March 5, 2015, at 7:31 AM PST
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  17. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    That particular axiom has been very much noticeable even into my professional career. It boils down to discipline, yes, but more so sometimes to a selflessness or an awareness of something greater than oneself which demands something on your part; to be willing to pitch in more than to demand of others. If there isn’t such a thing, then maximization of personal satisfaction will only sometimes coincide with discipline and deferred gratification.

    It seems that this is observable in most people I’d consider to be good or worthy of respect. The other end is also observable, and discipline in one area is no guarantee of overall character.

    This disconnection from something greater is the key, I think. That is how one justifies (rightly, according to pure reason) utility maximization, or, paraphrasing Whittaker Chambers, pleasure maximization. That’s how the sexual revolution has been taken up with gusto, because the first revolution was to tear down anything which might act as “something greater than oneself”. God. Country. Family. Natural law. Ethnicity. Community. Any number of little platoons.

    • #17
    • March 5, 2015, at 7:32 AM PST
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  18. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mister Dog:

    KC Mulville:Members of the military, I suppose, are the quintessential team players – but not being a vet, I don’t feel qualified to speak about that.

    I played very little organized sports, ….

    What, like dwarf tossing?

    • #18
    • March 5, 2015, at 7:35 AM PST
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  19. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville

    Ed G.:This disconnection form something greater is the key, I think. That is how one justifies (rightly, according to pure reason) utility maximization, or, paraphrasing Whittaker Chambers, pleasure maximization. That’s how the sexual revolution has been taken up with gusto, because the first revolution was to tear down anything which might act as “something greater than oneself”. God. Country. Family. Natural law. Ethnicity. Community. Any number of little platoons.

    Can’t [like] this enough.

    • #19
    • March 5, 2015, at 7:36 AM PST
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  20. Peter Robinson Founder

    A really lovely post, KC.

    As it happens, by the way, I met Archbishop Cordeleone just the evening. He’s relaxed, warm, and humorous. And despite the more or less ceaseless attacks on him in the local press, he conveyed no sense at all of defensiveness or anger. This is a completely likable and impressive man.

    • #20
    • March 5, 2015, at 9:16 AM PST
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  21. Owen Findy Member

    Very good post, KC!

    • #21
    • March 5, 2015, at 10:13 AM PST
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  22. Crabby Appleton Inactive

    Discipline, as I came to see it when I was in the military, is focused goal-directed behavior. That is why teams which are successful achieve their success through discipline. That is how successful individuals become so. Christianity is first and foremost profoundly ethical – a regime of individual behavior. The kingdom of God is within you, the individual. The kingdom of God is at hand, i.e. within your individual grasp. What better way to prepare people (young and old) than to instill in them principles of (individual) ethical behavior, set that behavior as a goal and focus their lives toward achievement of that goal. Hooray for Archbishop Cordileone and for Catholic discipline.

    • #22
    • March 5, 2015, at 11:02 AM PST
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  23. Rachel Lu Contributor

    I met Archbishop Cordileone once before became the Archbishop. I’m sure he wouldn’t remember me, but I found him very personable and generally impressive. It’s certainly encouraging to see figures like him willing to take some heat in order to defend the faith publicly.

    • #23
    • March 5, 2015, at 11:10 AM PST
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  24. CuriousKevmo Member

    Misthiocracy:I never played on any teams. I never understood the point of putting a ball in a net, or a puck in a net, or a ball past a line painted on the ground, etc. It all seemed like pointless busywork to me.

    It’s yet another example of my unnaturally early curmudgeonhood.

    If I’m not mistaken Misth, you are a movie fan. Might I suggest “When The Game Stands Tall”? A fine example of what it can mean to be a part of a team. And how sports and the competition therein can help to make us our best selves.

    • #24
    • March 5, 2015, at 1:47 PM PST
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