I learned a long time ago that this business can affect your perspective of the world.
When I was in law school I received class credit for prosecuting cases one semester. So, they sent me to traffic court. There were about 50 cases. All of them involved driving offenses. Most were minor, but there were enough tragedies to make me jumpy and overly cautious as I drove home.
A few years later I noticed how juvenile crimes tainted the impression that a few law enforcement officers had of all teenagers. The best medicine for that is to spend time with outstanding young men and women. There are far more of them than you would think if the only ones you encounter are the few that break the law.
As you can imagine, I am deluged by criminal matters. All are serious. Many are heart-rending. If you do that all day long and then go home and watch the news, it can mess you up. You start to think that evil is winning. You wonder how all the good people suddenly disappeared. You fear for our country’s future.
That’s when you need to go to a Braves game.
That’s right. For my birthday the staff gave me two tickets for the July 4th game against the Diamondbacks. I took my son, David.
As we arrived we saw patriotism everywhere. Uncle Sam hats. Red white and blue outfits. Flags. Banners.
Between innings, they showed candid shots of the fans on the big screen. They were partying. Shouting “USA!” Toddlers were dancing.
At one point they zoomed in on a man. He appeared to be in his late eighties. He was in a wheelchair. And the cap he was wearing indicated that he is a veteran. The loud cheer put a big lump in my throat.
But, the best part came later.
Apparently, they feature “Hometown Heroes” at each game. This time it was a United States Marine. It took about three minutes for the announcer to share all of the accomplishments of this extraordinary man. They included his decision to run two kilometers through gunfire to rescue other American soldiers. Despite being hit, he completed his mission and received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
When he walked onto Turner Field, wearing his formal uniform, the standing ovation rocked the stadium for several minutes.
During the seventh inning stretch, we sang “God Bless America.” The Braves won the game. The fireworks that followed were spectacular.
And I figured out how a fellow can overcome his fear about the future of America.
Spend some time with a few thousand Americans.
Scott Ballard is the District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which includes Upson County.