A Culture of Rage

Life in a civilized society is inevitably frustrating. We cannot always do as we wish. We have to modify our behavior to accommodate the other members of our society. But as we mature – if we are lucky enough to mature – we adjust to the restraints that we must endure to live in a civilized society.

Of course not everyone matures. Some people just grow older.

Ray Rice obviously hasn’t matured.  Adrian Peterson (photo above) obviously hasn’t matured.

Rice is the thug shown in that video the TV stations are so in love with. You know, the one where he knocks his fiancée cold in an elevator and drags her limp body around like a sack of sugar.

Peterson is the thug who beat up his 4-year-old son. According to one news report:

Peterson grabbed a tree branch, which he referred to as a “switch,” according to law enforcement sources, removed the leaves and struck the child with it repeatedly.

The beating reportedly resulted in cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to his hands.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both Rice and Peterson are professional football players.

To me that’s what American football is all about – savage violence.

I don’t pretend to understand American football. I am told that it involves a high level of skill and intricate strategic maneuvers. But all I see is a crowd of overweight guys running into each other, grunting like cave men and knocking each other about. Then I see them, one by one, limping off the field and getting treated for some injury.

I am forever grateful to my daughter Grace that she did not encourage either of her sons to play football. My elder grandson Jonathan opted for the comparatively gentle sport of wrestling, and his younger brother, Adam, chose swimming and badminton.

I realize that I am part of a tiny minority when it comes to football. Most Americans – especially the males – are enraptured by the game. The NFL is hugely profitable because of this love affair.

I think this says a lot about American society.  And what it says is not complimentary.

I think football fans are venting a massive reservoir of pent-up violence when they cheer their favorite warriors, even urging them to “kill” the opposing players. I see the NFL as just one symptom of a culture of violence, a culture in which guns are glorified, obscenity is admired and women and children get beaten up. This violence is bred, at least in part, by the inevitable frustrations and disappointments of the desperately unsatisfying daily lives that most of us must lead.

I suppose the NFL will sternly punish Rice and Peterson. The media will insist on it.

But I find this depressingly ironic. Where do you think Rice and Peterson learned their primitive behavior? Probably in the NFL. And if they came to the NFL with a background of violence and thuggery, the NFL did everything in its power to make them even more savage.

The sickness of violence runs deep and wide in America. It will take a lot more than suspension of a couple of players by the NFL to cleanse the infection.