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WHERE ARE THE HEROES?
18 September 2014
Did we ever have heroes? Or were all of our "heroes" the same as they are today and we just never knew it because we didn't have 24/7 news and all-seeing social media?
I had lunch today with my friend Kathy. We meet once a month and we usually end up talking about what is going on in the world, getting increasingly depressed about what we see on the news. I asked her today where are the heroes?
I grew up knowing that the policeman was my friend and that if I were in trouble, I should run to a policeman. Do you think any African American mother teaches that to her children today? I have no doubt that the vast majority of policemen are wonderful, caring, heroic men...but there have been so many instances of "shoot first and ask questions afterwards" that I would be afraid to trust a policeman. And whatever happened to the taser? Now it's shoot to kill, even if you have no proof that your suspect did anything at all.
Yes, we only see the rare case where this happens, but there are periods when it seems that there are reported shootings by policemen every night...sometimes two in one night. Your perspective tends to get skewed.
I remember being so excited to be at the Giants game after Barry Bonds broke the home run record. We missed it by a day. I also remember the baseball heroes of my childhood. Mays, McCovey, Cepeda. Then we began to hear about steroids and player after player was accused of (or admitted to) using steroids. Do the baseball stats mean anything any more? Do our children look up to those giants (small "g") as heroes to emulate, or do they learn from them that it is OK to cheat as long as you win?
And now the NFL. I am so incredibly disheartened by the NFL and its response to all the reports of domestic violence. I am also disheartened by the players who feel it's OK to beat up a woman or a little kid. Jon Stewart had the best quote about this a few days ago. When addressing the leniency with which the abusers had been handled, he said, "Let that be a lesson to NFL players everywhere. If you hit a woman, they will not let you hit a man for six more weeks.
It is amazing to me that there has been no NFL policy regarding men who beat up helpless women or children. These are supposed to be our heroes. I want little kids to look in awe at someone like Ray Rice with wide eyes and think "I want to be just like him when I grow up." I don't want him to hear that someone like Rice punches women and think "ok--that's how I should behave." I don't want him to be afraid of Adrian Peterson because he beats 4 year olds with a stick hard enough to cause marks on his body.
The NFL should have had a policy in place long before this, not respond on a case by case basis depending on public opinion or sponsor threats to withdraw support (yay, sponsors!)
Quite honestly, I think Rice's punishment was too harsh. But a 2 game suspension was too lenient. Maybe this was the first and only time he has been violent with his fiancee/wife. Should he lose his job and his income because of it? I don't think so--but I also don't think that benching him for a game or two sends any message at all, especially when other abusers are let off with a one or two game suspension.
There should be a mandatory period of suspension, a hefty financial fine--one big enough to hurt, mandatory counseling, and mandatory community service working with abused women before he can go back to the team.
These guys should know from the day they sign their multi-million dollar contract that their responsibility to the team is to play to the best of their ability but also to be a good repesentative for the team. They should follow someething like the boy scout pledge. They should be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,brave, clean, and reverent. They get paid enough; that shouldn't be too much to ask. They should be role models for young boys growing up wanting to emulate them. They shouldn't be teaching kids that you can do whatever you damn well feel like doing and earn a fortune at the same time.
And if you beat a kid, it should be much, much worse. I don't care if that's the way you were raised. My father beat my sister with a rubber hose. I spanked our kids occasionally, and always felt guilty for losing my own self control and bringing myself to their level. If you are a muscle-bound football player, you should not be hitting a 4 year old. Period. (Or as Jon Stewart said again tonight, you should not be permitted to do to a 4 year old what you are not permitted to do to a 250 lb linebacker dressed in helmet and padding.)
I want something positive to come out of all this. I want there to be heroes again. But they are going to have to work hard to earn that label.
(As I was writing this, there was yet another report, this time on the Cardinals' Jonathan Dwyer, for "aggravated assault causing a fracture, one count of aggravated assault involving a minor, two counts of criminal damage, one count of preventing the use of a phone in an emergency, and assault, police said." Sigh.)
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Day 79: Giraffe spotted in downtown Davis
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