I have thought a lot about you over the last few days – and of course, I don’t know you. Your private agony is so very public, and I’ve fretted over whether to discuss you at all. But I write about football. And your story has profoundly affected the NFL.
I am sorry I’m just another blogger, adding my voice into the media surrounding your family’s pain.
As author John Green says, empathy is to
imagine others complexly.
You are human and complex. Your lives are complex. Your relationship is complex. And every person who has observed you is complex.
So, I’ve really thought about this situation on three levels of complexity:
1. Your Lives
This is you. We do not know you. We do not know if this is a one time act of rage or a lifetime of domestic violence. Your pain of that moment is real, and has been displayed for the world, compounding it beyond measure. But somewhere there has been love, marriage, a child, forgiveness. The intricacies of your family are not mine, nor the world’s. However you choose to move forward as a family (together or apart), I pray for healing of mind, body, and spirit, for all involved.
2. The Public
We’ve seen it. And, we too are complex. Some of us have never seen violence and are shocked. Some of us have seen the same violence and are triggered into remembering humiliation and victimization. Some of us experience rage. Some scoff and laugh – though I cannot fathom why. You are a mirror to The Public, and in this way, we only see ourselves. You are no longer your own complexities, but ours. Don’t take our hurts, our rage, or our laughter personally. They are not yours; they are our own.
3. The NFL
Oh Rice family – if anything, ANYTHING, can give you solace in this time, know this: you have changed the NFL for the better. Remember, the NFL is not a person – it is a profitable organization – and cannot be imagined as complexly. Yes, the people within are complex, but it, itself, is simple. And, it has a simple problem: misogyny. Whether its blind eye to violence against women in the past, or the subtler (yet consistent) undermining of female intelligence by sportscasters, the NFL has a real gender issue.
But you have brought it to light.
The NFL is under scrutiny. Things will change. People will become accountable. Maybe, just maybe, a culture of equality and respect will blossom (we can hope). Born from your pain comes a broader discussion and a new era. And maybe some family, somewhere, will not go through what you’ve experienced.
My prayers are with you, with us, and the leadership of the NFL.
May we all gain empathy, imagine complexly, treat others respectfully, and move forward in forgiveness and wisdom.