Oscar Pistorius, a South African sprint runner with double below-knee amputations, is all over the news—and it’s not for his fast times.
The Pistorius murder case is splashed everywhere I look, both on TV and on all major online news sites.
Pistorius is charged with the Valentine’s Day murder of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. It’s been reported that he shot and killed Steenkamp while she cowered in his bathroom.
This latest murder saga leaves me wondering, why do we thirst for such gory stories of murder, betrayal and domestic violence at its worst?
I think this particular case is especially interesting because of this athlete’s amazing rise from his extremely high pedestal to his lowest of collapses. I certainly don’t mean to be insensitive to this horrendous murder story when I suggest that for some reason society loves a good tale about a fall of a hero.
Does it make us feel better about ourselves? Does this type of failure actually highlight our “lesser,” mere mortal successes?
I think this particular case also fascinates because of the currently huge notoriety surrounding athletes and doping. (Testosterone and needles were found in Pistorius’ bathroom.) Revelations such as Lance Armstrong’s tale of deceit and defeat are also everywhere in the news. The unfortunate truth is that our professional sports are so competitive, money-driven and big-business that a variety of athletic leaders turn to banned substances in order to improve performance and/or performance times—and it’s alleged that Pistorius is no different.
Yet, domestic violence is a horrible reality that plays out for many people all over the world, not just the rich, famous and athletic—but does this story actually bring awareness to domestic violence or does it merely serve to feed our daily gore quota?
So what should we do with stories like this, when we have almost no way of avoiding them?
For one, I think it’s important to realize that we’re presented with these stories for reasons other than serving human good or justice. Rather, these dramatic tales hit our daily news sources because people like to hear about others’ failures, even if they are the accounts of another’s tragic death. Still, this doesn’t have to be why we, in turn, take them in and read them.
Trust me when I say that almost every city out there needs more support for victims of domestic violence. Government grants often support shelters and psychological therapy, but many of these programs barely get by. Almost all shelters will gladly receive donations of basics like soap and clothing. I’m a yoga teacher and my social worker sister has even tried to get funding to hire me for yoga therapy for some of her clients: meaning all of us can help in our own ways, even if it’s with your time instead of financial donations.
While I’m sure this sad drama will unfold before our eyes and then disappear, there will surely be another to take its place, but if we take these stories and allow them to inspire us to perform positive acts within our communities then everyone wins—not just the people trying to feed us blood for breakfast.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel