If I had to guess, I’d be willing to wager you’ve been in a situation where you’ve made a huge mistake. A time you chose to speed past the guardrails and blow through the moment of knowing what was right, choosing to do what was wrong instead. It’s a moment you wished you could take back the minute it was born. A moment that still has the power to embarrass or humble you.
If you’ve been anywhere within fifty feet of a television or radio in the last forty-eight hours, you’ve probably heard the name Ray Rice. In the age of 24-hour media coverage, when someone in the spotlight steps over the line, it’s hard not to hear about it. And in a world where most of us walk around with advanced technology in our pocket, it’s harder yet not to see exactly what everyone is talking about. If you’ve watched the Ray Rice video footage of his altercation with his then fiancé, you know what I mean.
But before you read further, be warned--this post isn’t about Ray. It isn’t about domestic violence, how the NFL handles employment contracts, the politics of sport or what the future holds for such a fallen star. This is post born purely out of the concern that for many of us, a similar creature may be lurking under our very own roof.
While I don’t have a long enough list of adjectives to properly convey my thoughts regarding the horrific act of violence I watched on the video, it’s what happened after the knockout punch that has me the most concerned. You see, I have a thirteen-year-old son and he has friends. And while I adore these kids, I won’t lie. I refer to them as the moody, broody, attitudy group because that’s exactly what they are. Gangly, smelly, moody, hormonal, attitude filled beings that suddenly seem to exist only to test we mere parents at every turn. Freshly minted teenagers. And that scares me because I see glimpses of their behavior as the video rolls.
If you watch the Rice footage, you’re going to have that moment when you feel hopeful such an egregious wrong can somehow be righted. Much like I did, you’re going to hold your breath waiting for the moment you’ll get to see a person fall to their knees as understanding of what they’ve done dawns in their psyche and remorse washes over them. And much like me, you’re going to be sickened when that redemption doesn’t come.
While there’s no audio accompanying the video footage, in the moments after the blow, you can almost write the script based on what you don’t see happen that you should see happen. “Huh?” What did I do? She started it. I didn’t do anything.” Maybe I’ve had my head in the clouds too long to hope to see remorse, compassion and tenderness in the midst of such chaos but that’s exactly what I expected and exactly what never came as the footage rolled on. In the words of my dad, we treat our family pets better.
So why am I so bothered by this total and utter lack of remorse and compassion that happened hundreds of miles from me between two people I don’t know and doesn’t affect my family in the least? Because it hits too close to home. It’s the very monster we’ve been beating back as parents for what feels like eternity at this point. Because we live in a time when anything we do that puts us in the slightest negative light must be someone else’s fault and that logic is crippling our kids. Because the same words that rolled through my mind as I watched that video are phrases well used by the teen that lives under this roof and it’s all too easy to dismiss them as mere teenage attitude. Because anything goes in this world today and I don’t buy in to that lie, and I don’t want my son to buy into it either.
Anything doesn’t go in these four walls. In fact, our motto for this school year with our son is Man Up and our message to him looks something like this… When you make a mistake, you man up. When remorse over an action sucker punches you in the gut, you get in front of it and man up. When you have a hard choice to make, you man up. You take responsibility and you own your life; every beautiful, ugly, smooth and jagged part of it. You man up because it’s the right thing to do. Because you live by a higher standard.
It’s my heartfelt prayer that as parents we’ll continue to do what’s right, and what’s best for our kids, instead of what’s easiest or most popular.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16: 13-14