I decided to take a break from blogging sports today because it saddens me that violence has become a daily occurrence in our country. Rather than take a side on the issue like some gang member, I want to share a personal story that might help us look at these events realistically and with a plan to hear EVERY side of the subject.
When I was 15, I was attacked by 2 black youths on a city bus and my blood was everywhere as my Catholic school uniformed white shirt was now a bright color red. My nose was broken and was brought to the hospital. My parents saw my face bloodied and tried to remain calm despite the fact their son was hurt. Once I was stitched up, they had a discussion with me.
They told me I had EVERY right to be angry because I was attacked but if I had a thought in my head of getting revenge on an innocent black person, get it out of my mind. They told me if they find the person who did this (and they never did) they would use the framework of the laws of our great country to make sure they pay the penalties of the law. But if I took it into my own hands, I would not only be breaking the law but I would be making an innocent person feel as bad as I felt-maybe even worse.
They also told me that hate will get me nowhere. It was the early 70's and our world was changing and my parents knew it. In fact, they mentioned to me that my love of sports would show me the way. They reminded me of my love for players like Tommie Agee, Willie Mays, and Cleon Jones. They told me I loved them I would meet so many black people in my life and they were right. If I had succumbed to that hate, I would have become an angry pessimistic person that let violence rule my life.
I never again ran into the 2 people who assaulted me but in short order I prayed to God that I forgave them and hoped he would help them deal with why they did this and help them become better Christians.
My message is clear today-feeling angry about becoming the victim of violence is OK but letting it turn you into a violent vigilante will only let the original act of violence win. Let the courts deal with these issues because it is the way our great country was built. Continuing the violent acts will only create a domino effect multiplying the violent acts.
Sports-wise I think of a moment I had in the Knick locker room with Alan Houston on MLK Day. We both admitted to each other that Martin Luther King Jr. made it possible for us to learn from each other and understand how to make this country better every day. At that moment, I also realized without my parents guiding me in that horrific moment at the age of 15, I might have gone down a different path. I am sure they were angry their son was attacked but knew there was so much more at stake--the way their son would live his life.
Please let us all stop and think about that on a day more retaliatory violence took place in our country.