s-VIOLENCE-AGAINST-WOMEN-large300It’s tough to admit this publicly. I’ve kicked the dog a time or two – not recently, but I have struck another living thing out of anger. I think back on that and I cringe, because it feels really dark. It can be terrifying to reflect on a time when I haven’t been able to control my anger. If I were to prioritize the sin tendencies I have in the order of how quickly I want them rooted out of me, vindictive, reactionary anger would be number one. I can’t imagine what it would be like for one of my physical displays of violent anger to be video-recorded and made available for all to see. It’s one thing to wear a scarlet letter that tells the world what we’re guilty of.  It’s another thing to wear a self-incriminating video recap of a universally despised indiscretion.

The Ray Rice elevator video footage is pretty brutal.  You may know that Rice, an All-Pro Super Bowl champion running back with the Baltimore Ravens, has been served a lifetime ban from the NFL for punching his fiance (now wife) in the face in an elevator in a New Jersey casino earlier this year.  A few months back, released video footage outside the elevator showed Rice dragging his unconscious wife out of the elevator after the altercation.  At that point, it was speculated that Rice may have injured his wife, or that she was severely under the influence. This week, the video inside the elevator was released, and the former was shockingly confirmed.

Rice has been usually considered to be a good guy. His teammates, while clearly distancing themselves from his actions, have spoken well of him publicly all week.  He hit a woman though. In our culture, we have rarely seen something so high profile and so egregious caught on tape.  Professional athletes with higher profiles than Rice, Floyd Mayweather for example, have seen the public disdain over their domestic violence die down over time and most of their followers unite around them again. The video evidence for those incidents wasn’t replayed on continuous loop on SportsCenter for weeks though. Is Rice’s otherwise positive and peaceful reputation able to survive this long term?  Or does the harsh judgement that comes from what our eyes can see on tape make it less possible for us to care whether he’s ever “restored” or not?

Rice’s now wife, Janay, has insisted that this was an isolated incident and that their relationship is being healed. It has all the markings (we hope) of a redemptive story of restoration, but I just wonder if our ever increasing opportunities to see people at their worst make it more difficult to experience the grace and healing that those of us who have acted violently from a dark place might need one day.