The unthinkable happened this past weekend in Kansas City. Football star Jovan Belcher had money, fame, and a bright career ahead of him. He had a beautiful girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and a three-month old little girl.
For reasons on which we can only speculate, Belcher brutally murdered his girlfriend before taking his own life. He mindlessly forced his bosses for the KC Chiefs to watch him commit his final senseless act of suicide.
Many are trying to draw some kind of lesson or make some kind of sense of all this. Advocates are arguing that this was a case of ongoing domestic violence. Others are saying that it points to the foolishness of young athletes.
FoxSports columnist Jason Whitlock and fellow broadcast journalist Bob Costas used this as an opportunity to point out our culture of guns and violence. This, of course, outraged those who fight for the rights of gun owners, who countered with the “People kill people” argument. (For the record, Belcher’s guns were all legal).
But some of the deepest wisdom in this mess came from an unexpected source: Chiefs’ quarterback Brady Quinn.
I never thought much of Quinn as a quarterback. But on Sunday evening after their game with the Carolina Panthers, I became a huge fan of Quinn as a person:
I know when it happened, I was sitting and, in my head, thinking what could I have done different. When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?” Quinn said at the post-game news conference. “We live in a society of social networks, and Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine and stuff, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have in front of us.
“Hopefully, people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they may be revealing on a day-to-day basis.
We live in a culture, even a Christian culture, that continues to value “tough guy” attitudes and the rugged individualism, Lone Ranger or Die Hard or Rambo-style. We neglect the part of the Bible that tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), even in our churches and Sunday School classes and Bible study groups.
And on those occasions when someone does ask for help, we offer platitudes and cliches; or we just say that we are too busy.
Make no mistake: Javon Belcher committed two horrendous acts, and those around him are the victims, particularly his three-month old daughter who is now an orphan.
But what if we took Quinn’s words seriously? What if we took the time to really listen when we ask someone how they are doing; or offer an honest answer when someone asked that question?
Quinn’s quote is a reminder that we spend our lives passing carelessly by too many people. We spend time with others without ever opening our hearts to get to truly know them. Perhaps we can begin to create a culture where we raise our heads and begin to look people in the eye. Maybe we can start talking to each other and, even better, start listening.
Maybe we can do this because it’s what Christ would want us to do. And to at least have a chance to help those who are teetering on the edge, whether we recognize it or not.