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If the Greedy Always Beat the Needy, Then How Do We Change the World?

Kansas City seeks Wholeness by Allowing Ignorance to Teach Us
Clouds over Kansas City

I just watched the new Wonka movie and I’m suddenly feeling strangely optimistic about our chances! No, I don’t think chocolate holds our answers, but I do agree with Willy Wonka’s adolescent belief that we have a lot more power to affect the things around us than we realize. The film’s central message is a take on a Gandhi quote that I am very fond of - “we have enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed”.

That concept keeps me going whenever I feel discouraged about the world around me, and I’m grateful for those words as a strong anchor to remind me over and over again that we are all connected to each other at some energetic level. 

I’m anticipating that there will be at least one more Wonka installment that explains how Willy’s journey led him away from unbridled optimism and into reclusive skepticism, but in the meantime, I breathe deeply, and casually wonder what might have happened to kill Mr. Wonka’s passion for helping the people he cared about. I think this movie taps the roots of our societally selfish choices, and asks us to take a closer look, intellectually, at where we are and how we got here. Outrage aside, but not dismissed. Objectivity is the key to navigating these muddy waters toward allowance and wholeness. We cannot change what has happened, historically, but we can absolutely account for the problems that still exist as a result, and work to detangle those roots – exposing the places where things got gnarly to the light of the current climate.

Last week in Kansas City, Jackson County had a vote about moving the Royals stadium to the Crossroads District in Downtown Kansas City. Or about repealing and replacing taxes. Or maybe it was about keeping the Chiefs here? According to the Dear Resident letter I opened from Clark Hunt right before I went to vote, a yes vote on Question 1 would have guaranteed that the Chiefs wouldn’t seek better accommodations from another city. It wasn’t a direct threat, but it was received by a lot of raised eyebrows. 

It’s hard to glean which thing was primary, and as with most things political, it all depends on who you ask. I was already prepared to vote No for personal reasons. My dad owned some buildings and operated a business on the corner of the proposed new location. I have personally watched the development of the surrounding area for nearly 50 years. It has been slow, steady progress for several businesses who persisted while things were bleak, and has now become a cool, well-established location for art, music, food and creative businesses ranging from award-winning chocolates to on-demand t-shirts. Their hard work has paid off, and now the area is thriving with fresh eclectic energy that appears to continually build on itself. It’s truly fantastic in its expression!

At the other corner of the Crossroads, my friend and Mentor Rick Rothstein owned and operated Disc Golf World News out of Kansas City’s first retail disc golf store from 1995-2018. My dad and Rick were part of the same disc golf community, but they weren’t very neighborly to each other until I began playing disc golf in 2002. My dad owned a t-shirt company and Rick ran multiple disc golf events that needed t-shirts. Whatever had existed as an ego issue for them was quickly transformed when they realized how many values they had in common, and what it means to a community when rifts are repaired in a way that makes the entire group stronger. That is the essence and spirit of disc golfers everywhere, but it is also the infusion of Crossroads Energy that turned bad blood into a beautiful relationship - business and personal.

On top of that, a local construction company bought one of my dad’s buildings several years ago. Prior to the sale, they had some structural changes made, and then upon purchase, had the building declared a historical landmark. As the surrounding area has flourished, this building sits unchanged. It’s not for lack of resources. Or lack of interest. Could it be that these current plans to overtake the area for the Royals were part of an insider agreement that the construction company leveraged in order to own property - historical property - that would become incredibly valuable with this relocation? I don’t know the truth here, but I definitely smell a rat somewhere. And I recognize the smell. It used to be in the alley behind my dad’s buildings, back before the area was loved and supported. That’s how we do it in small communities that value their roots and honor their origins. We remember how we arrived where we are with intention.

Where was the Royals’ interest before there were businesses in this area? Perhaps they had some and I just didn’t know it, but right now it seems wholly opportunistic. Why disrupt an area that is valued, celebrated and supported with the pain of separation, loss and undesired change when there are so many open areas around us? Why create division of energy in the space where you want to put a beloved sports team? Let’s create some sacred ground that invites the Royals' spirit. This is already way too much of a fight! Personally, I really like the stadiums exactly where they are, but I don’t have the first clue what the Chiefs or the Royals might desire in terms of future space. My opinion is full of emotion and ignorance regarding things like that. Translation: I, like most of us, don’t know enough of the existing facts to form a truly fact-based opinion. It’s really easy to lose sight of that.

What I do know is that we have watched greed usurp need time and again in the United States. Kansas City doesn’t normally have much of a social/cultural reach, but the Kansas City Chiefs, Taylor Swift, and gun violence at our Superbowl victory parade have brought a spotlight straight into the heart of our city and its resources at this point in time. Did the Chiefs train hard and successfully align with their intentions in order to secure their back to back wins? Absolutely. But I can’t dismiss the community and the Chiefs fans as a big part of sustaining the powerful energy that brought it home. For Clark Hunt to suggest the Chiefs will weigh their options about moving to another city when they have gained so much from this city (financially and otherwise), I have to imagine that his greed has somehow tipped the scales away from the exchange of gratitude that has provided so much balance for us up to this point. 

I know it will be seven years before a move would actually happen, but I’m still bothered by the cavalier comments made by the Chiefs Leadership, and the possible lack of loyalty to the community who grew their wealth. Why throw negative energy into the mix as we are losing favorite players and watching the team form anew for the 2024-2025 season? Why put doubt into the institution or suspicion into its motivations? Especially when we have a third superbowl on the line! Why do the Chiefs players the least bit dirty when their hearts are so beautifully focused in benevolent places? Our collective Kansas City love is palpable and it matters deeply to those of us who can feel it as part of our personal fabric.

I still miss the Kansas City Kings and still hold some low-key resentment for the City of Sacremento who ‘stole them from me/us’. My relationship to professional basketball has never been rekindled, even though I tried to follow the Kings for a while. I felt abandoned, and that is where my heart tends to draw lines. I have loved the Royals through their strikes and their many strike-outs. I have rooted for the Chiefs no matter how the team performed, and I know that I will always support every Kansas City Sports team to the best of my ability. As far as I am concerned, any team who chooses to leave no longer deserves to claim our community's greatest resources: the incredible energy that can only be harvested from the heart of Kansas City, and its growing ability to turn the seeds of greed into something that will actually feed our entire community.



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