A story currently sharing headlines across the U. S. and trending up on social media concerns two issues that I feel are of importance to a mindful community, to a community of people who point their hearts and heads—and even their wallets and pocketbooks—towards personal and cultural expressions of wisdom, peace, kindness, empathy.
The issues are: the treatment of women and the role of pro athletes. These are two issues that pervade our society, and an incident has occurred that may well be the catalyst for social transformation.
On February 15, 2014 at the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punched and knocked unconscious his then-fiancée (now wife) Janay Palmer.
Initially, Rice was given a two-game suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. But the public outcry was so widespread and passionate that the NFL, a multi-billion dollar culture-leading industry, was force to revamp it’s domestic violence policy.
Then comes the release of this video:
Ray Rice has been released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. This is a case that goes far beyond the context of sports and has become a national story.
Domestic violence in the U.S. is shockingly common.
“More than 31 percent of women in the United States have been physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That troubling statistic comes from the agency’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, released just last week. Researchers conducted more than 12,000 phone interviews in 2011, and also found that 19.3 percent of women (almost one in five) had been raped.”
And this, from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
“One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year; 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women.
Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew.
Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.”
I want to revisit something I said in a recent post, How to Treat a Woman:
“We cannot ever bully, intimidate, shame, or humiliate our woman. This means we’ve got to develop our self-awareness, we’ve got to be mindful all the time. We cannot slip up here—we cannot in any way harm women, not physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, sexually.”
I wrote another post, Pro Athletes are Role Models, which was triggered by the initial news of Ray Rice’s punching out his fiancée, in which I argue that professional athletes are role models and must act accordingly. I argue that performance on the field is only half the game; their performance in life is the other half.
And now, in light of a sickening video and a national public outcry at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s initial lenient punishment—the NFL may very well be the catalyst for significant cultural change with respect to domestic violence, and may reshape the role of the pro athlete so that they, in fact, recognize that they are role models off the field and must behave accordingly. These are important; these affect our society in big ways.
Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, said on Monday, Sept. 8th:
“You have seen the President and the Vice President make very forceful public comments in talking about how important it is, for men in particular, to step up and step forward, and make it clear that violence against women is something that is not and cannot be tolerated.”
I urge you to watch this segment of “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC. Among his three guests are Kim Gandy, president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Mr. O’Donnell and his panel discuss the case and the breaking developments and what they might portend for our society.
I further recommend you watch this editorial by ESPN’s Keith Olbermann as he speaks to the social, cultural, and business implications of this drama.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Keith Allison at Flickr