Thursday, September 25, 2014

Got it?




Last week, I told my young son that his female fourth-grade classmates will soon be undergoing changes within the next year two, thanks to our dear friend, Puberty.

He jumped like he’d been tased.

“Here’s the deal,” I said in an I-mean-it kind way. “They are gonna start to grow boobs.”

“Geesh, Mom,” he whined and rolled his eyes.

I looked him straight in the eye and continued, “And girls get really sensitive when someone starts making fun of their boobs. Or lack of boobs. So you will not make fun or allow any of your friends to make fun. You will show them respect and kindness. Got it?”

He quickly nodded, “Got it,” and off he went.

See?

How simple was that, America?

As a parent to a little boy, it’s my job to ensure he grows up into a man. A man who gets it.

The “Washington Post” reported that 45 percent of the NFL’s 150 million American fans are female. Hooters commercials and barely-dressed cheerleaders dancing along the sidelines not-withstanding, the female audience has become one of the most prized demographics for the billion-dollar organization.

You can now buy flip flops and purses and jewelry and yoga pants and lingerie decorated with the logo of your favorite NFL team.

It won’t be long before it’s on a box of tampons.

God bless capitalism.

But please do me a favor, NFL.

Identify those players who like to beat women and children and boot them out of the league.

Do it. Do it now.

***

The NFL refused to boot Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens after seeing video of him dragging his then-fiancee from an elevator in an Atlantic City casino.

Because apparently the parties involved said they both regretted it. She said some things, he said some things, it just got out of hand, they claimed.

It wasn’t until the portion of the video INSIDE the elevator was released, showing Rice punching the woman in the face, that his suspension was extended beyond two games.

Now Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson has been indicted on charges of negligent injury to his 4-year-old old son.

He has admitted to “disciplining” the child with a tree switch. Photos released by the Houston Police Department detailed his “discipline.”

Gashes, bruising and bloody welts covered the boy’s thighs. The report also detailed further injuries to his buttocks and scrotum.

Now, due process will play out in this wicked little play. And that’s OK. We trust that the system works, and truth will out.

At first, the Vikings deactivated Peterson from the active roster after learning of the indictment.

Way to go, Vikings!

But then the team received a beatdown by the New England Patriots.

Wait. What?

A day later, Peterson was back on the roster, eligible to practice, attend team meetings and given permission to suit up for the next game.

Due process must be followed, officials said. Let’s not rush to judgement. Let the man have his day in court, the Vikings cried.

But the Vikings and the NFL are not the court of law. Because of that, they are allowed to use a little common sense right now.

And here’s what my common sense tells me: When a man who has ADMITTED to hitting his son leaves that kind of trauma on a defenseless child’s tender little body?

I don’t need the state of Texas to tell me he did something wrong.

And neither should the Vikings or the NFL.

It wasn’t until advertisers and sponsors started dropping like flies - hitting the team where it counts - that they turned around and took Peterson off the field yet again.

But don’t feel too sorry for him. He’s still getting paid.

Don’t let his excuse “that’s how I was raised” get Peterson a free pass. If the photos released by the police department are in any way, shape or form indicative of the discipline he received as a child?

It was wrong then too. If the damage he inflicted had been on a person 18 or older, he’d have been arrested for assault.

Since Peterson appears to be such a fine model of strict parenting, I tried to find out just how many children he has. You know, so I can see exactly what kind of expert he is.

Some reports say five. Some speculate seven, conceived by possibly at least four different women.

It appears Peterson himself is reluctant to answer. It’s possible he doesn’t say because he just doesn’t know.

In August last year he discovered the existence of a 2-year-old son he wasn’t aware he had fathered. 

He revealed in an ESPN interview that the first time he saw the little boy was two months later. At the hospital. Where the child was on life support after allegedly being beaten by the mother’s boyfriend.

The child soon died from his injuries.

Here is a man who has already lost one child to domestic violence. One would hope he’d be a little more protective of the children he has left.

Instead, after reports of his indictment, Peterson tweeted a photo of a Bible with blue-highlighted passages regarding the dangers of judging others.

Sorry, but I’m gonna judge right here: a guy who has several kids with several different women is really the last guy from whom I want Bible quotes.

You don’t get to pick and choose from a list of good behaviors, Mr. Peterson.
If you’re gonna talk the talk, learn to walk the walk.

***

At the Patriots/Vikings home opener, one fan appeared wearing a Adrian Peterson jersey and carrying a long switch in support of the beleaguered running back.

She was female.

Maybe the NFL - who made $9.5 billion last year thanks to their 45 percent female fan base - is smarter than we think.

If some women can’t get it, how can we expect men to?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let's roll


Today is September 11.

It’s another anniversary of the day that changed our world.

Another anniversary when we remember the fallen.

Remember the heros.

Remember the families and friends left behind.

We remember the images. The black smoke. One crumbling tower. Then a second one. People in bewilderment and fear, running down dust-choked streets. A collapsed section of the Pentagon.

Later, a smoldering field in rural Pennsylvania.

The Stars and Stripes standing tall amid a tangled mess of debris and shattered lives.

Todd Beamer’s recorded voice saying, “Let’s roll.”

We Americans are full of pride, almost instilled from birth as soon as we slip from our mother’s womb. We are practically swaddled in the Stars and Stripes. Kindergartners learn to place tiny hands over tiny hearts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

We teach our children about respecting the flag and how to stand during the national anthem.

We love our red, white and blue. We love our history, our revolution against a king.

We love kicking butt in the Olympics. We love feeling like we’re Number One. We put men on the moon. We are a nation of winners and inventors and industrialists and educators and people out to take on the world before anyone can take it from us.

Pride. Arrogance.

That’s us. 

The world is a scary place. Sometimes in the fringes, sometimes blatantly out in the open, there are people whose very natures are dark. Like those who brought 9/11 into our lives. They live for the fear. They desire revenge. They see our pride, our arrogance and deem us unworthy.

But for each dark moment, for each tattered soul that lives to destroy, for each shattering event that calls into question our humanity for each other, there is light.

There is sweetness and innocence and compassion and hope.

It’s in the children who proudly set up a neighborhood lemonade stand to raise money for the local animal shelter.

It’s in those who create charming lending libraries at the end of their driveway so their neighbors can get lost in a new adventure.

It’s in the high school students who host fundraisers for a paralyzed classmate’s medical care.

It’s in the community members who build homes for Habitat for Humanity.

It’s in the shelters who help the abused and the abandoned, the neglected and the homeless, find a warm meal, a clean bed, a safe place.

It’s in the ALS bucket challenge, the Plunge for Landon Shaw.

It’s in the benefit dinner for a cancer patient.

It’s the community members who take an idea for a junior golf course and work to make it a reality.

It's in those who support a project to help disabled people bring home a paycheck and a sense of worthiness.

It’s in our teachers and our hospitals and our civic groups.

It’s the celebrities and athletes who use their fame and fortune to bring kindness and resources to those most in need.

It’s in groups like Wounded Warriors and the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

It’s in every local business that shares its time, talents and money with their community.

It’s in the welcoming faces of people like Maryville Hy-Vee greeter Fred Mares who make you feel like you’re the most important person in the world.

Do not think for one damn second that the bad guys are winning.

Do not think for one damn second our world is beyond hope, beyond help.

While days like 9/11 make our hearts heavy, I know that the goodness of man rejoices. Our world is not perfect. Too many people around the world are at the mercy of the powerful. Too few own and control too much.

But I still believe there is more light than darkness, no matter how desperate some moments seem.

What life post-9/11 has taught me is to grab on to those moments of light. Use them to blast at the shadows of those who’d bring darkness to a world that is not always kind.

Be a light in your own corner of the world. Fight the shadows.

Let’s roll.