Power play?

So what is powerful?
Most of us would assume that getting a multi-thousand or multi-million dollar salary gives one power. Being physically fit and muscular is power. Having celebrity and fame at a young age is power! So what is it about this ongoing rash of young professional athletes who feel it acceptable for them to physically assault their significant others, their children, their pets, their friends and even neighbors or strangers?

It may be a tip off to us that what we see externally as power and influence may not be felt internally as power. So that an individual feels they must exercise control over another in order to feel they are powerful and worthy of adulation.

We are looking at an immature and not fully formed sense of self. Someone that although they are perceived to be powerful and influential do not know how to exercise it or show it without subjugating another. In essence they only feel powerful if they are literally or figuratively beating another being into to submission to their will.

The structures around them also add to this immature sense of self importance excusing bad behavior. The cult of celebrity excuses this beastly behavior rather than making the doer accountable. This modeling of bad behavior thus trickles down to others as being acceptable. If an NFL player can beat, debase and control a woman then it is OK for college athletes and high school athletes to mimic the behavior and expect there to be few consequences.

It is well past ti9me for us as thinking people to unleash our economic power to condemn such behavior and to force teams, leagues, schools, sponsors, and communities to put forward codes of behavior that mean more than athletic ability. We need to let them know that celebrity is earned – and earned by the quality of the human not the strength of muscles or force of intimidation.

It is well past time for mothers to let young sons know it is not acceptable to beat or menace another being and let their daughters know they are not to tolerate that kind of treatment. It is time for fathers to teach their sons by word and example how to treat other people – with respect, caring and compassion. And it is important that society support and enforce these lessons and expectations. And the lessons have to be enforced by middle schools, High schools, Colleges, and professional teams. You behave badly and you don’t play – you don’t represent this organization.

And we will know e have succeeded when a team withdraws a skilled player for cause and the fans don’t whine about the score but are proud to demand personal integrity aa well as physical strength and agility.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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