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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Gardener’s Perspective: Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson … Didn’t Know Better? Are You Serious?

A Gardener’s Perspective: 
 Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson … Didn’t Know Better? Are You Serious?

Every once in a while I air an opinion on my garden blog not related to gardening, when something makes little sense to me. Ray Rice struck his girlfriend. It was quite violent. Adrian Peterson actually whipped his children with a switch. It was a violent act, not child discipline. I am a clinical therapist who has been in the field for 20+ years. Violent acts are an adult striking an adult and an adult striking a child. This is not about anger. We all get angry but we all don’t beat children or hit women. It is a choice in our behavior. So... people are actually saying they did not know better. Really?

We have really done little to address child abuse and domestic violence in America. I only hope Rice and Peterson get their share of the consequences but also hope the NFL get theirs. Plain and simple… benign neglect is still neglect.The NFL is responsible for neglecting a deep problem. Listening to the NFL say they didn't know it was happening is like seeing a battered woman or bruised child and saying they just fall a lot.

The main reason I am putting my thoughts down on my blog is this… Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are adults that have practiced a life time to become athletes and football players at the highest level. They are educated and have shown the capacity to learn and develop their skills. To say their excuses maybe that they grew up with violence, their mother or father beat them, they never learned to express anger the right way and finally they were never taught how to not be violent to another adult or child is ridiculous. These excuses create permission and perpetuate this type of violence. Come on… Are we saying they didn't know better? Are we saying they haven't learned right from wrong? Are we saying the NFL didn't know these things were issues among their players?

Here is the simple litmus test to not knowing something is wrong. You don’t try and hide it. The players tried to hide it. The NFL tried to hide it. They all know that this kind of behavior is wrong. If they thought it was right and okay, Rice would have said he hit her because he felt she was out of line in his opinion. Peterson would have said he whips his kids all the time because he finds it to be an effective way to best discipline them. They tried to hide it. Both players only really admitted it, after it was discovered. As did the NFL, or to be honest, when that behavior became more harmful to the NFL by not addressing it. How many victims does it take before a privilege of playing a sport for entertainment is taking away from those that can't follow civil rules? No person or organization should benefit from the rewards of civil society if they themselves can not be civil.

If Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson can spend hours upon hours upon hours learning how to improve their skills to be an athlete… they could have taken a parenting class to learn how to raise a child appropriately or not to abuse a child or a behavior management class to learn how interact with someone you love and not strike them when you get mad. They could have done it on their own, at anytime. They chose violence. And if not a class, they could have inferred over time as they grew up to become adults, practicing day after day with adults, that violence is wrong. I would argue they ran into hundreds of potential role models and could have inferred violence was wrong, The NFL should also recognize that hitting children and adults is wrong. Recognize it in a way that creates strong policy, not a game of hide and seek.

Rice and Peterson didn't walk onto a professional football field with baseball cleats on their feet and hockey gear for protection because that is all they used as a kid growing up. You know when you are a kid, you use what’s available to play a pick-up game. The end zone is the old oak tree and the pine tree. Out of bounce is beyond that bush. This method of playing wasn't imprinted on them as the only way to play football. They both learned how to play the game the right way, with the right equipment, with the right training while being coached. You can also learn that way when it comes to raising kids and loving someone.

Saying they don’t know better or didn’t know better around hitting an adult or child because that is what they learned as a child is well… like saying they didn’t have the capacity to become professional athletes because as child they didn’t have the right equipment. Silly and sad, that people are really trying to make excuses for their behavior. Why are we making excuses for them and the NFL? Don't you teach a child hitting is wrong? Don't schools teach hitting is wrong? Don't movies teach abuse is wrong? Doesn't the media put out enough information that striking a child is wrong? Since when does not knowing or "that's the way my parents did it" become an acceptable excuse?

As adults we have the capacity to learn. That is why you found my blog and YouTube channel. And as an adult we are responsible for violence directed toward others. Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are responsible for their actions. They have the capacity to learn, change and deal with the consequences of their actions. That is their individual burden to deal with and reconcile. The NFL is equally responsible for their failure to address this type of violence from their paid employees. Making an example of the NFL, not Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson is the best way to change attitudes and save millions of men, women and children from domestic violence and child abuse. A better NFL policy may have prevented the recent events. Early action is the best way to change behavior. Playing dumb is not.

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