Earlier this week, news we are all now familiar with broke a tragedy wide open: Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely; he was taken out of video games; he was cut from his team. However, he was punished in this way not because of his abuse of his then-fiancée and now current wife. He was punished precisely because the video of his abuse went public and viral.
Many people asked why the NFL hadn’t cared enough until now. Many people still seem reticent to admit it was strictly for PR and pocketbook concerns.
Proof for this proposed reason? The NFL knew Rice had been not just arrested but convicted of assault months prior. In fact, contrary to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s own public testimony following the video’s release, NFL executives saw and had the video in their possession thanks to relevant legal authorities…at the NFL’s own request.
But what was the punishment before the video became public? The NFL gave Rice a meager two-game suspension.
The punishment after the video became viral: essentially Rice is banned for life from any association with the NFL without pay.
If you’re a parent, you’ve played this game in board books with your kids: now that you’ve seen both pictures, can you tell what’s different? Only one thing changed between the two-game suspension and the ban: everyone has now seen proof of the abuse, they know that the NFL had that proof, and that means severe financial fallout for the league.
Also earlier this week, in addition to this news and its ramifications for the ills people truly understand and pay attention to within our society, I ruminated about the likelihood anyone would respond in more than a superficial way. Regardless of the likelihood, the question might rightfully be asked: what course of action might be rational to suggest?
For one, I hope people are seriously considering not purchasing any material from the Ravens organization. For another, I hope people are willing to stay financially away from any organization that has convicted felons of abuse or any other crime. This step in particular hits home heavily for me, as I’m a born-and-raised 49er fan, and anyone who follows football knows the 49ers continue to have behavioral issues with their personnel. But I am willing to do both of these proposed actions, and more.
Someone might reasonably contest that financial boycotts are a mess, because it punishes the economy and people within the organization that have had nothing to do with the criminal activity. While this is an understandable contention, if one weren’t to consider a boycott, it remains to be seen how anyone not connected directly to the Baltimore Ravens, Ray Rice, or Roger Goodell would effectively be heard in their opposition to either (1) the league’s handling of the incident, or (2) the league’s precautions against perpetuating a culture of violence that under any other circumstances would be deemed unethical at best and criminal at worst.
Even if someone doesn’t agree with the above rationale, there are still other opportunities to take action, especially if someone is a casual observer of the game or not particularly financially invested. Tonight, Thursday September 11, the Ravens play. What seems a considerable action is simply to keep from watching the game tonight, and instead, pray for the situation—the victims, enablers, and committers of domestic violence and abuse. Pray for those who can’t come forward; pray for those who don’t realize they’re caught in abuse’s viciousness; pray for those who want help but can’t ask for fear of judgment; pray for providers of help; pray for point-blank healing.
There are plenty of resources on the subject, and there will be some listed below. But what can change a situation best is prayer, consideration within ourselves and to our God about how best to reverse attitudes, alter behavior, grow mindfulness, and establish firm safety for any affected by the torment of real physical, emotional, mental and spiritual abuse. This is the best way to first be prepared, aware, equipped, discerning and ready to both receive and bestow healing. God created every human soul, no one is disqualified in Christ, and the Spirit seeks to heal damage.
Are we more willing and able to bring healing when called, or to continue drowning ourselves in entertainment when it’s unnecessary? We may see tonight.