Every situation, no matter how negative or horrific, offers us learning lessons and teachable moments. The latest scandal about the Ray Rice elevator video is a case in point.
As always, I try to view the situation through the perspective of prosperity consciousness and what we can take away to live in accordance with the principles of prosperity. But what I see from most of the media, public officials, and social media is missing the mark. People are talking about the length of the suspension, if and when the NFL saw the tape, and whether Roger Goodell should keep his job. I believe in all the rush to judgment, kneejerk reactions, and media exploitation of the situation, the real issues – the issues we should be talking about as a society – have been lost in the hysteria. So what are they?
1) Janay Rice is in Danger
One thing we know about abusers is this: They get angry, lose control, and then invariably after they abuse someone, they blame it on their victim. And if they face consequences for their abusive behavior (getting arrested, losing their job, etc.), they also blame that on their victims. This often enrages them even more, causing them to attack their victims again. (Unfortunately the victims are so psychologically scarred, they often buy into this line of thinking and believe they did somehow create the problem.)
If Ray Rice stays ostracized and out of work for long – if he hasn’t gotten serious professional help – odds are that he will lose it again, and take it out on Janay. I fear for her safety and even her life.
If this pre-trial intervention program Ray was sent to doesn’t have some of the most incredibly talented and competent mental health professionals in the world (and likely, even if they do), Janay is facing serious danger right now and in the weeks and months ahead.
It doesn’t matter that she married Ray, defends him, or what she posts on her Instagram account. If her husband hasn’t worked through the psychological issues that caused him to act in such a psychotic, bordering on sociopathic manner – Janay is in increasing peril. It is vital that her family and people closest to her be by her side right now and the immediate future.
2) The Culture of Media Sensationalism
A lot of people are commending TMZ for releasing this video, as if they are some kind of journalistic watchdog, protecting the public interest. Nothing could be further from the truth. They released this video because it gets them page views and higher ad revenue.
TMZ and all the other media outlets like them are despicable, deplorable and appalling. They make their living by sensationalizing events, exploiting the misfortune of others, and spreading malicious gossip. There is nothing noble in what they do.
The fact that this video shocked society and initiated a robust discussion in society does not validate what TMZ is and what they do. In fact, posting this video online and networks replaying it constantly has increased the threat to Janay.
Of course TMZ and media like them are simply responding to the voracious appetite for gossip we have as a society, and the subconscious negative memes we’re programmed with that enjoy seeing successful people being torn down.
It’s no different than the naked celebrity pictures that were “leaked” a couple weeks ago. (And about a thousand times before that.) Those pictures were not leaked. They were stolen. And posting them was an unconscionable invasion of personal privacy.
I was shocked by the public comments and analysis in that situation as well. Numerous times I heard sentiments such as, “Well if you don’t want your naked pictures or videos online, don’t take them.” Statements like these are no less ignorant than saying if women don’t want to be raped, they shouldn’t dress in skirts.
People don’t “invite” attacks because they dress a certain way, wear a t-shirt with a political slogan on it, or display a different sexual orientation or religious belief. Prosperity consciousness means all human beings have the right not to be attacked, or have their privacy violated. We can do better.
And as for the reporters who interviewed Floyd Mayweather Jr. about the situation: Asking Mayweather to comment on domestic violence is akin to asking Jerry Sandusky about child abuse. The only reason to ask him to comment on this situation is because you know he will say something inflammatory and stupid. You can do better.
3) The NFL’s Blind Eye Toward Steroid Use
I don’t know if Ray Rice uses steroids. But here’s what I do know: A very large percentage of NFL players do use steroids. And so do a lot of college athletes who hope to be drafted into the NFL. Nineteen-year-old kids don’t go from 200 to 280 pounds in a matter of months just from hitting the weight room. You know this, I know this, and every coach, trainer and owner in the NFL knows this.
People who use steroids experience “roid rages.” Any rational, thinking person need only look at the epidemic of bullying, arrests, domestic violence, fights and other altercations that happen every year with NFL players and infer that steroid use plays a big part.
But the NFL is the most-watched major sport in America because people want to see blood-crazed savages inflicting damage on their opponents. The more steroids in play, the more brutal, savage and violent the action is. (And the higher the ratings are.) So the NFL is willing to look the other way.
Back to the issue of Janay Rice’s safety: People who follow Oscar Pistorius closely for years have documented numerous outbursts of violent rage from him. Whether these are from mental instability or steroids, we saw how that worked out for his girlfriend.
4) The Way the NFL Exploits Their Players
I was waiting for the guest of honor to arrive for her surprise birthday celebration when another guest invited me to play billiards with him. I accepted and as we were playing, I was thinking he must be an ex-athlete. He was about 6”3”, with a huge chest and biceps, but carrying around an extra 80 to 100 pounds. We finished our game and he introduced himself to me. I was shocked to discover he wasn’t an ex-athlete – he was a star lineman for the Miami Dolphins.
The truth is, football has devolved from an athletic sport requiring skill, coordination and finesse, into a brute strength battle of endurance. These days, about the only guys who are actually healthy, are the kickers and wide receivers. As far as the linemen, the main requirement is to be big. Really big. All across America you have high school kids trying to bulk up to 300 pounds in the hopes of getting drafted. And most of the time they’re doing it with steroids, cheeseburgers and milkshakes.
Instead of the sport making people healthier, it’s shortening their lives. Mark my words: follow the lives of the NFL players who have played since the advent of 300+ pound lineman and watch how many are dropping dead from heart attacks, strokes and related issues in their 40’s.
New England Patriot Wes Welker isn’t playing this week, but only because he’s been suspended for failing the NFL’s performance enhancing drugs test. (But don’t worry, it wasn’t steroids. The NFL likes those. If you notice, most of their suspensions are for amphetamines, booze, dope, or cocaine.) Welker suffered a concussion during the pre-season, his third in ten months. There’s no way in hell he should have been on the field. But he passed the NFL concussion protocol and would have been cleared to play.
The players association says the average career length of a player is 3.3 years. The league claims it is six years, because they tilt the number by only using players who make a club’s opening day roster in their rookie season. Whichever number you want to use, one thing is apparent: It’s a very high-risk job with no security. And as the long-term effects of concussion and other trauma become known, the prognosis will only get worse. How many guys will have to suffer dementia, depression, and suicide before the NFL takes it seriously?
Yet for a lot of inner city kids, the dream of an NFL job is their only way out. And the league knows exactly how to play into that. So at least let’s be honest and call the National Football League what it really is: a de facto Hunger Games, where neighborhoods and towns sacrifice their young and strong for the hopes of fame and glory.
The best thing a kid can hope for is getting drafted, grabbing a large signing bonus, and getting a career-ending injury to a shoulder or knee the first game they play. At least they’ll have a little cash, and have a better probability of living a longer, healthy life.
5) The Real Issue of HUMAN Rights
The overriding issue in all this is the basic rights that every human on earth is entitled to. As I watched a panel on ESPN discuss the issue, it shocked me how sexist everybody was. (Not that surprising, since the whole panel was male.) At least five times, someone said something to the effect of a line being crossed because of, “a man laying his hands on a woman.” But the problem here is that domestic violence and abuse is gender neutral.
If you loved seeing Mo’Ne Davis pitch in the Little League World Series and want to see more… If you believe countries run as well under people like Golda Maier, Indira Gandhi, and Margaret Thatcher as they do their male counterparts, then leave someone’s gender out of the discussion.
If Rice had a gay lover and punched him unconscious in that elevator, would that be alright because the other person was a man? Of course not. All domestic violence is deplorable, whether it is man on woman, woman on man, or any combination.
Making it worse, there are cultures and countries around the world where abuse, violence and even slavery is still an accepted practice. We’re outraged because Ray Rice punches Janay, but no one questions religions that believe women are chattel to be owned, non-heterosexuals should be killed, or apostates should be beheaded. We look the other way and mumble something about “respecting the beliefs of others.”
No enlightened society would respect the beliefs of anyone who abuses, bullies, enslaves or kills another human and justifies it with their scripture. Beliefs like that are not to be respected, they are to be reviled. You cannot experience prosperity yourself if you are actively trying to deny it to others. And we can’t experience prosperity as a society, until we stand up for the basic human rights and safety of everyone.
I hold the vision of a society that respects and protects the rights, dignity and life of all – one where we won’t need a TMZ video to shame us into action.
Randy is the author of nine international bestsellers on success, including, Risky Is the New Safe. He’s currently on sabbatical, writing his next book, but posts occasionally here. If you find these postcards helpful, please share them.