It’s interesting to watch how a behavior that was socially accepted (or at least tacitly condoned) seemingly overnight is no longer acceptable… or vice versa. In my lifetime I’ve seen major shifts in thinking about racism, drunk driving, women’s rights, smoking, and issues of sexuality and gender expression, just to mention a few.
So what are the factors that underlie these shifts? Is it increased knowledge and understanding? Policies and Laws? Repeated exposure to the problem and personal stories about how people are affected? Is it economic impact? It’s all of these.
For several years now I’ve been commenting that we are reaching a tipping point regarding our society’s tolerance regarding domestic and sexual violence. These issues have been around forever, but until recently were considered private and uncomfortably ignored. The graphic images of Ray Rice abusing his fiancée fast forwarded the tipping point. We went from talking about abuse to actually watching domestic violence. And when, cringing, we watched the brutality of a professional athlete punching his fiancée, the blames shifted from judging the victim for choosing to be in the relationship to holding the abuser accountable for committing the violence. And now, seemingly overnight, our policies, attitudes and judgments have changed.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark, reporting about Aroldis Chapman’s 30 game suspension makes it clear that the world has changed. I encourage you to read the full article, as his words resonate like a triumphant chorus heralding that after a very long journey we’ve finally reached the gates to civilization,
“There once was a time in baseball — heck, in all sports — when players abused their spouses and were playing games the next day, as if nothing of any significance had happened…
Well, guess what? Luckily, we don’t live in that world anymore… Domestic violence wasn’t taken seriously in this sport for way too long a time. So it’s almost embarrassing to look back now and recognize how many cases were swept aside or ignored…
a precedent has been set. And a message has been sent.”
Thanks for heralding that change, Mr. Stark. I’m happy to be standing at that gate welcoming everyone to join us.