Dose of Truth


Tim Richards

All of us occasionally fall into the trap of viewing important things as if they are insignificant. At other times we make the opposite mistake, foolishly turning small things into issues which seem monumental. In short, we lose perspective.

That happened in June 1969, when Honduras and El Salvador met in a series of qualifying matches to determine the winner of the World Cup— soccer’s highest trophy. The two were bitter rivals. When the first match was played in Honduras, Honduran fans made sure the visiting Salvadoran team would not sleep the night before and set off fireworks and honked their horns outside their hotel. Honduras won 1 to 0.

Salvadoran fans were understandably angry at how their team was treated. Amelia Bolanios, an 18-year-old fan, even committed suicide. The Salvadoran newspaper El Nacional reported her death as a national tragedy writing, “The young girl could not bear to see her fatherland brought to its knees.” An army honor guard led her funeral procession and the president of El Salvador walked beside her casket.

?When the Honduran team went to El Salvador for the second match, Salvadoran troops and tanks established a parameter around the soccer field. El Salvador won 3 to 0. Following the game fights broke out and several fans were killed. At the final match on June 27, El Salvador defeated Honduras in Mexico City 3 to 2 and won the World Cup in overtime.

However, sanity did not immediately return. Instead, the rivalry mixed with an ongoing immigration conflict and a century-old border dispute and was enough to ignite an actual war on July 14, 1969. Although it lasted less than a week, 5,000 were killed and another 10,000 wounded. How could a soccer rivalry escalate to that level? In a nutshell, both countries lost their perspective.

I began today’s column by writing that everyone sometimes loses their perspective. I experienced two events last week which helped me see my life from a fresh viewpoint. My father celebrated his 80th birthday and my college class celebrated its 40th reunion. Both events reminded me that life is short and I am well over half way through my own.

King David made a similar point when he wrote, “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.” (Psalm 39:4, NLT) My thoughts about age have changed many times as I have grown older. Although David wrote these words about 3,000 years ago their perspective is timeless. How can we live wisely if we fail to realize our “days are numbered?

Living with a proper perspective in 1969 could have prevented the Soccer War and avoided needless bloodshed and misery. Living with proper perspective can help us live more meaningful lives today. It is only as we see our lives accurately that we can gain the perspective required to live wisely.

Tim Richards

has been a pastor for 37 years, serving five churches, including his current church, The Refuge in St. Louis, which he founded. He and the congregation minister to those who are hurting and do their part to expand God’s kingdom. Tim and his wife Kelly have five children. “A Dose of Truth” which he has written for more than 25 years appears in 13 newspapers. His book, “Thriving in the Storm: Discovering God’s Peace and Perspective in Turbulent Times,” is available from Amazon. Feel free to contact him at Photography is another of his skills. Pastor Tim photos may be viewed at

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