Affording Rice the Same Opportunity

RiceDuring the second news conference, Ray Rice conducted appeared to get it right. Claiming he owns the situation, that he lives with the “… pain of having to explain that (videotape) to my daughter.

Being a trained speaker, the first news conference nearly four months prior was a rerun of ‘The Poseidon Adventure.’ It was a disaster. While Rice didn’t punch any teammate or fan and unconsciously drag them off an elevator like airport luggage, he apologized to the world. Sad to say, he forgot the victim.

Subconsciously, Ray Rice is similar to us – that as a society, our apologies have become more mechanical.

Let’s face it, a bulk of our relationships is transactional and true authenticity is swept away by shards of information. The “I’m listening dear” and “I hear you” are buffered by once-a-week appointments of intimacy that veneers the window of love. Our inattention to life and love leaves most daydreaming of better times and spattered by prolific romanticized visions of sudden, passionate love. Look out the window folks … autumn’s leaves have fallen.

Real love is rare and we forget that seeds of love, once planted, must be nurtured. The field must be worked. By not tilling the field, love’s fertile soil succumbs to a mainstream of lists, of iPhone tasks, text messages and other accoutrements which on prima fascia value appear extremely urgent, but so unimportant.

But before we set off with torches and pitchforks in hand, let’s revisit another Baltimore Raven, Ray Lewis. On January 31, 2000, a fight broke out between Lewis, his companions and another group, resulting in the deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Two weeks into the trial, Lewis’ attorneys’, negotiated a plea deal in which Lewis plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction in exchange for testimony.

The following year, Ray Lewis was named the Super Bowl most valuable player. The murders of both Baker and Lollar remain unsolved. At the end of the day, Lewis received the equivalency of a 15 yard penalty for unnecessary roughness and ‘first down.’

I’m not daring to compare the alleged infractions committed by either Lewis or Rice. And no woman should be beaten, period. But in the 13 years succeeding, Lewis was able to rehabilitate himself, while simultaneously becoming an iconic figure of leadership. While I feel Ray Rice walked away relatively easy, he has a tough road. But maybe, just maybe, his own personal failures will lead to something wonderful.

However, as USA Today writer Nina Mandell opined, it won’t change what he did, for what Rice did was horrendous.

All of us, Rice and Lewis included, need to surrender our ego, not for ourselves, but as a gift of protection to future generations. By allowing Rice grace and love, we create a profound opportunity to transform hatred into light. It’s something Rice, and society as a whole, could dedicate to all who’ve experienced such abuse.

Buddhists claim the health and happiness of the family is essential to societal happiness. Despite material and technological security many have, individuals and families suffer from a lack of true communication, resulting in anger, violence, loneliness and despair. So if Ray Rice can impact any of the 17,000 reported domestic violence cases just in Baltimore, then he deserves the chance. In essence, he deserves the chance for rehabilitation others receive.

Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach quoted that everyone who falls gets humiliated and dragged through the mud. “The Jewish religion says that a man’s most cherished possession is his good name … and everyone deserves the opportunity to reclaim his.” Whether or not Rice can live and atone to man he claims is up to Rice. But that forgiveness is grounded upon the level of grace his spouse and society offer.

Personally, I’m not neither a Raven nor Rice fan. But if we forgave Lewis – if we forgave Vick – then we must afford the same opportunity to Rice.



Categories: Life Lessons, Social Justice

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