The real scandal is not about football or domestic violence or big business. The real scandal is about what’s happening in our living rooms…
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice gave his wife a right hook before he gave her a wedding band.
He knocked her unconscious and then dragged her halfway out of the elevator they’d been riding. Just far enough to keep the elevator door ajar and the security camera recording. Just far enough so the NFL could witness the totality of the brutality. When they saw it, they suspended him for two games.
Until the video went public.
Then the team cancelled his contract and the league suspended him indefinitely. In the wake of the news, more allegations of domestic violence amongst NFL players are emerging.
But really, none of this is terribly scandalous. Is anyone surprised that a sport rooted in violence toward others cultivates violence at home? Is anyone surprised that a billion dollar business will hide bad press until it can’t hide it anymore? No, the real scandal is in the results of an NBC poll: while 60% of football viewers disapprove of the way the NFL has handled the scandal—and presumably even more disapprove of domestic violence—90% of people will not watch less football as a result.
The real scandal is not about football or domestic violence or big business.
The real scandal is about what’s happening in our living rooms and in our lives.
The real scandal is our tendency to ignore what we value and to live out something else.
The Road Away From Purpose and Peace
Purposelessness and peacelessness.
They are the plagues of our age. But you need not look further for their cause than the disconnect between our values and our actions. What are purpose and peace? Purpose is the sense of meaning that emerges when how we live is consistent with what we believe. Peace is the quiet sense of wholeness that happens when what we value merges with what we do.
Our highest values come from somewhere deep inside—a place some call the heart or the soul or the true self or our center or our core. However, our souls are often slaves to our egos—the part of us that wants progress and seeks pleasure and pursues perfection. So, what do we do when our soul’s purpose and peace are at odds with our ego’s pleasure and progress?
We believe one thing and we do something different.
And to tolerate the dissonance, we stop looking in the mirror.
Looking in the Mirror
I don’t watch much football anymore. Not a moral choice but a practical one—I don’t know when I’d find time to mow the lawn if I was running a fantasy team. So, it’s easy for me to look at the NFL and call out hypocrisy.
But it’s not so easy to look in the mirror.
It’s not so easy to admit how much I care about the planet and yet never think twice about the amount of fuel my travel decisions require. Some time ago, my wife quit using our Keurig coffee maker because of all of the plastic waste. I still use it.
It’s not so easy to look in the mirror.
It’s not so easy to admit how much I care about people and yet when I see “Made in China” on my clothing, I don’t read between the lines and remember “Made in China” really means “Made (in a Dangerous Factory Under Horrible Conditions by People Being Paid Almost Nothing and Being Treated Even Worse) in China.” I don’t think about the people who made my iPhone and the work conditions they endure and the health conditions they’ll develop as a result of working with the chemicals that make my phone beautiful.
I don’t think about the ugly behind the pretty things I like. Because I like my progress and my pleasure and my perfection and my pretty.
It’s not so easy to look in the mirror.
The Road Back
If we were fully aware of the gap between our values and our actions, we’d have a hard time looking in the mirror, and we’d have a hard time looking at a television screen on a Sunday afternoon. But there is so much more at stake here than our fantasy leagues and favorite teams and a little bit of guilt and personal reckoning.
Our purpose and our peace are at stake.
We have a choice, but are we willing to make it?
Are we willing to curb our appetite for progress and pleasure and perfection in order to live what we believe? Are we willing, finally, to make our egos answer to our souls? Are we willing to live according to our deepest values? Are we willing to seek the kind of progress that sometimes looks like going backward, becoming smaller, getting weaker, giving in to simplicity, and accepting loss? Are we willing to become purposeful in a way that has nothing to do with competition and everything to do with communion? Are we willing to become peaceful in a way that will transform everything for a planet desperately in need of wholeness?
Are we willing?
Am I willing?
Are you willing?
If you are, then go find a mirror. Choose to make one small, single, solitary change to bring your way of living into step with your way of believing. One little alteration that could alter the course of your life. One little difference that could make all the difference.
One single choice by every single person on the planet, and there wouldn’t be enough mirrors in the world to contain all the purpose and peace being reflected back at us.
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The next Courtyard Conversation was originally scheduled for this Sunday. Unfortunately, due to a scheduling issue on my end, I’ve had to postpone it. The next Conversation will be on Sunday, October 12th, at 2pm CST. If you want to talk more about making our egos answer to our souls, join us then. You can find out more details and about how to join by clicking here.
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