Is Ray Rice a bad person?

Ray Rice

Giving advice is fun. I do it a lot on this blog, even though I have no credentials and basically no right to do so.

Good advice is lived experience. But my experiences will never be your experiences. For example, I might tell you not to apply for a job at such and such a place because I had a bad experience there. That doesn’t mean that you will too. Hey, you might just love it!

I can’t give advice on a soap box, though I have. It’s the worst kind of advice, right? I can be preachy. God can I be preachy! I’m lucky to have always been a self-aware person, I’ve noticed that it’s not a skill you can teach someone. To paraphrase Joan Rivers, it’s like herpes, you either have it or you don’t.

When I provide advice for someone I do it as a flawed individual. I understand that how I view the world is not necessarily how everyone else is going to view it, and that can make me angry at times.

What’s most important when giving advice, especially if it’s about a shared or similar life experience is to acknowledge your own personal responsibility in your past conflicts.

This again is something I’ve noticed that others can’t do. You either have the ability or you don’t. They’re what I like to refer to as history revisionists. They see the world through a lens that excludes their own accountability. They are the victim, the survivor. In their world conflict is measured by good and evil.

I guess it goes back to my earlier post about complexity. I don’t see the world as being black and white. If you do, stop reading my blog. The world is grey darlings, and it’s okay. Karma doesn’t exist. If you think it does stop reading my blog! So many horrible people have lived long, wonderful lives. To prove my point watch the documentary, The Act of Killing.

They’re not, as we like to believe, sitting at home living miserable existences, rarely, do they even give their poor choices a second thought. Conversely, some people who commit horrible crimes are genuinely sorry, and learn from their mistakes. There own personal guilt at what they have done serves as a means to self-improvement that benefits everyone.

Last night we were discussing the Ray Rice video which I still can’t believe the media played on repeat. It gave me no pleasure watching that. We really have become desensitized to violence in this culture.

Is Ray Rice a terrible person? He did a terrible thing that’s for sure. It was awful. But why do we vilify him so easily? It’s possible that he’s continued the cycle of abuse he was raised in. His identity, in the minds of everyone, is his violent occupation — it’s possibly the only life he has ever known. But we’re so quick to throw the book at him.

Never mind that the NFL is an inherently racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, hostile environment that mirrors our own society. It’s much easier to blame one person, because that way we don’t have to look at ourselves. What Ray Rice did was terrible. It was awful. But I don’t think he is an innately bad person. I believe that there are more factors involved than just being a wife beater, at least as it pertains to this specific case.

He may have hit his wife, and he’ll never do it again. I know something about abuse. I know how it starts and I know how it ends. I accepted it from my family and my friends for years before I accurately identified what I embraced into my life.

But abuse doesn’t mean that the abuser is a bad person either. Sometimes they are, but not always. I know couples who have admitted to physically fighting one another, only to resolve that they would never have it happen again.

It’s so easy to look at an incident like the Ray Rice video and believe that we’re superior. But so many of us are a scintilla away from demonstrating similar violence.

Ray Rice is the perfect person to give advice about domestic abuse. If he fully grasps the horror that he committed, and takes responsibility for what he did, I’m certain many more men could learn from his life lesson.

His wife could be trapped in an abusive relationship, or it was one incident. Maybe it was two, maybe three. Maybe after all that it will never happen again. Maybe.

Before we judge someone for their actions, no matter how abhorrent, we owe it to them, and to ourselves to understand the world they were born into — the family, the economy, the love, or lack thereof.

Remember that this is different than making excuses. This is an explanation that can inform healing. Let’s stop reading what we want to read, or listening to what he want to hear. Let’s take the time to fully understand the scope of complicated matters.

My night of excitement

Red Wine

All for me. Seriously. No, joking.

Last night Lisa and I got together for conversation and obviously, to drink some  wine. I don’t know what happened but by 9 p.m. we were a little sauced, if you know what I mean. Clearly you know what I mean.

By 10 we were so drunk that we had no choice but to go to bed. As I put Lisa into the cab I became determined to drink more wine. So in my inebriated state, I went to the Wine Rack to buy another bottle, and as I was walking back to my apartment I figured, why not smoke a pack of cigarettes!!!???

I get home, turn on some soothing music, open up the bottle of white wine, the pack of smokes, take a swig and a drag, and realize that I would rather go to sleep.

So that’s what I did. By 11 p.m. I was asleep and didn’t wake up until 8 this morning.

Party animal!

Life life life

Franco

Lisa and I had a little too much to drink last night. I feel like my head is going to explode!

My new job is going well. I love my students. They think I’m fun, which I try to be. I love meeting people from other countries. There is so much to learn from them, their life stories are varied and inspirational.

As someone who knows what it’s like to learn another language, the struggles can be daunting. There is so much intimidation and in my case, I lacked motivation at times.

Many of my students are from South America, some from Saudi Arabia but the majority come from South Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan. My lesson plans revolve around their transition to Canadian life, and I provide the opportunity for them to discuss what they miss about home.

This is a refreshing break from office work. I’m active, up and moving, rather than sitting motionless at my desk.

So that’s all been good. My side job, in television and movies, has also been going well. I was cast in three episodes of Hannibal, a speaking role. I got to meet Gillian Anderson. My character isn’t killed, so hopefully I’ll appear in future episodes if the series is picked up for a fourth season.

My book has been optioned by Harper Collins and is now with the editors. I will never write another novel for as long as I live. Why I made that one of my life’s goals I’ll never quite understand!

Other than that, nothing special to report. I just keep trucking along.

Canadian cyclist filmed his escape from an attempted armed robbery in Buenos Aires

I’m happy this Vancouverite is okay.

I lived in Buenos Aires for a year and most Argentines would always brag about how “warm” they are in comparison to North Americans.

But here in this video you see a female Porteño ride away from what could have been, in the worst case scenario (and I’m being generous here), an attempted murder.

What I realized during my year in the “Paris of South America” was that Argentines are very amorous people and that’s what they mean when they claim that they are so “warm”. Most male Argentines, from my experiences, believe that they’re entitled to sex.

Every person I met in BA had been a victim of crime, whether it was a mugging, petty theft, a break-in or in one harrowing tale, a kidnapping.

When I confided in locals about my experiences they reacted apathetically; one person told me, after I had been robbed, “At least you weren’t murdered.”

So “warm”.

I understand that Argentina is a poor country, but crime is rampant and locals are so desensitized to it that they don’t understand how foreign an experience it is for those from more developed, safer countries.

For me, being warm is more than cozying up to someone for sex, it’s about actually caring and helping a person when they’re in trouble. The man in the video was eventually rescued, not by a “warm” Argentine, but another Canadian.

I doubt he went to the police over the incident, because the COPS in BA are just as corrupt as their politicians.

Complex

The end of the road

I’ve been told by many people that I have a big personality. I do. The reason I’m invited to social functions is because I’m fun and entertaining.

Clearly for those who read my blog I also have a strong personality. My opinions often change, but when I have them, I’m not shy about expressing what they are.

I’ve never really subscribed to the notion that I need to be liked. It’s not something that I really care about. I think many people short-change themselves when they try to define their personalities to be palatable for everyone.

As much as we want to identify with something, to categorize ourselves, I can’t help but think it’s a cop-out. I am a complex person. I’m not easily definable. I can hold two contradictory thoughts in my head at the same time and reconcile them.

So just as I said that I have a big personality I am also really shy. Yes I can entertain at parties, but I am often awkward and uncomfortable in large groups. I enjoy and am comfortable being alone, in fact I prefer it.

This is what it’s like to be a human being. We’re not just one thing, we inhabit many qualities that contradict each other.

That’s why our current acceptance of homogeny bothers me. We’re so determined to put ourselves into boxes, to identify with a job, or a hobby or whatever it is, to make other people comfortable with us.

Joan Rivers passed away two weeks ago. Remembrances have been coming from everyone in every part of the world. It does not surprise me to have learned that in her private life she was a shy, introverted woman, who preferred being by herself.

Balancing who we project we are with who we really are is important if we’re concerned with authenticity.

It’s hard for me to cope with all the phony fake people I meet everyday. I have to hunt the energy to deal with these kinds of people. I get upset primarily because they are forcing me to be fake, a trait that I find difficult to adopt. Sometimes I just call them for what they are, right to their faces but of course, that upsets the entire exchange.

Life is so much more complicated than we lead ourselves to believe. I wish that we would embrace this reality more. The world can be a cruel place. It’s okay to care about making it better. It’s okay to be angry, or sad, publicly!

As an emotional person I see how I can make others uncomfortable. But I’m comfortable with who I am, and how I feel, and unleashing the feelings inside of me onto the world. I’m labeled crazy. Some can’t understand then when I am joyful, cracking jokes.

If my peers have determined that my ‘personal brand’ is crazy then I wear it with pride.

Within each of us is our real selves. It’s important that we stop hiding from our innate characters.

Does it pay to be nice?

Never a silver-lining

This evening I went to the wine store. On my way there I could hear a man a few metres behind screaming and yelling. I turned around to see who he was and noticed immediately that he was probably homeless and perhaps, mentally ill.

I continued on my way, ventured inside the store to purchase my wine. I noticed that there was only one sales person working, a nice young gay man whose art work I’ve admired for some time, I’ve even gone out of my way to tell him such.

As I’m paying I watch as the angry homeless man enters the store. He appears calmer but still agitated. As the sales clerk hands me my wine, I take him aside and ask if he will be okay when I leave, considering that he’s alone, and that I only just recently observed the homeless man’s angry, erratic outburst.

The sales clerk gives me this look like I’m the worst person in the whole wide world and curtly responds in a whisper, “Most people who are mentally ill aren’t violent.” Clearly I understand that.

Really, bitch? This is how you speak to me after my considerate concern for your safety?

I was a bit embarrassed, mustered a weak, “Oh…. okay,” and walked out the door. I mean, I couldn’t believe that he chose that exact moment to get all PC on me. I was worried about leaving him alone.

Am I nuts for asking him if he was going to be okay!?

Sometimes it does not pay to be nice.