Floyd, Kaepernick, Fromm, & Brees

What do these four men have in common and what is uncommon between them?

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All four of them live(d) in the United States of America as legal citizens. That is one common denominator, but that is essentially where any similarities end other than genetics. What are the contrasts of these four men?

Three of the men play or have played in the NFL, one is no longer allowed to play in the NFL, and another was a fan of the NFL. Two are black men and two are white men, all from very different backgrounds inside the U.S. Three of the men are still living. Two of the men enjoy an extremely lavish lifestyle provided to them by their zip code births and family, the NFL, their respective team-owners, and brand-endorsements. One no longer has a career in the NFL and those rewards for simply going down to one knee during the imposed National Anthem before games to peacefully protest “police violence” on African-Americans and non-whites—a right provided by and protected by our U.S. Constitution and First Amendment for ALL U.S. citizens. One man was restrained by police officers and then suffocated to death by one officer, confirmed by two separate autopsies. The victim was suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby market. Finally, two of these four men enjoy very different American lifestyles, legal protections and privileges under our laws and Constitution DESPITE the fact that all four men are/were legal U.S. citizens.

There must be another fact remembered here. According to our federal and state laws, all of us deserve equally certain and specific protections by these laws, even when “suspected” of a crime, before and during legal “Due Process” by our justice system. A popular catch-phrase for this is “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.” Every single American citizen is provided these inalienable rights regardless of race, religion, color, creed, and sexual-orientation by the laws of the land, that is in theory. Economic or financial status SHOULD also be included and defined in these rights, but that’s another debate for another time and likely for a balanced, equitable U.S. Supreme Court.

Here is why I have gathered these four American men into a group. They currently represent citizens of the United States and the laws that are supposed to protect them. Perhaps I should have included Officer Derek Chauvin as well, but I chose not to in order to keep this post and topic somewhat brief and time-considerate. I will assume that most of my readers understand the purpose of American law-enforcement leading to arrests and probable cause (not sentencing!) for any police detainments and arrests, and followed by “due process” within our civil and criminal justice code and our U.S. Constitution.

  • George Floyd was suspected of passing counterfeit money. Did he deserve to die for this BEFORE getting legal representation in a court of law (due process)?
  • Colin Kaepernick was a star quarterback in the NFL who chose to peacefully protest police violence, a right provided to him by our U.S. Constitution. Yet, after his 2016 season and still incredibly talented, but released by the 49’ers, and then no other NFL team (31 other teams!) wanted to sign him, not even as a backup quarterback.
  • Jake Fromm is extremely outspoken about his personal religious beliefs giving him privileged success in football: I want to represent Christ the best I can, Fromm said. He later reemphasized his personal mission of proselytizing saying I hope I can reach and influence as many people as possible. Let’s try to go and influence others, lead people to Jesus, and hopefully do the best we can with influencing them and hopefully shed a little light in their lives.” In 2019 during a Twitter conversation with a friend about gun-ownership Fromm tweeted But no guns are good. They need to let me get suppressors, then he added, Just make them very expensive so only elite white people can get them haha. Fromm has never experienced any trials or tribulations his entire life.
  • Drew Brees made comments during a June 3rd, 2020 Yahoo Finance interview about American symbols in the wake of protests over George Floyd’s murder and Kaepernick’s PEACEFUL protest against police violence. He said I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. […] I think what you do by standing there [upright on your feet] and showing respect for the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. Brees is also recorded as stating his top four priorities in life in order of most importance. They are 4) philanthropy via Christian organizations, 3) football, 2) family, and 1) faith in Jesus Christ as he interprets it. The only trials and tribulations Brees has ever faced in his entire life are football injuries or team adversities.

What are your thoughts about my grouping and their bullet-points? I am curious to know, from any perspective. If possible, include your thoughts about social-media or freedom of expression today on social-media and how it is properly or improperly used by celebrities.

Late addition:
An interview by ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter June 4th, 2020 is quite telling from a celebrity white-man’s perspective. Watch the entire 6-minute interview. It is very revealing what Dale Earnhardt, Jr., a popular American NASCAR driver—a sport dominated by the Old South or Confederate States, white culture, and most popular in the South—says about the murder of George Floyd, racism and police violence today in the U.S.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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21st-Century Humans More Peaceful

With utter fascination last Wednesday night Nov. 20th, I watched one of my favorite PBS shows, NOVA. The title of the show was The Violence Paradox. The one hour show investigated how over the last 200,000 years Homo sapiens as a whole are living and dying less violently. In other words, comparatively speaking in the 21st century by the compiled numbers most human beings are living and dying more peacefully than in our past.

stevenpinkerIn his two published books The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2011) and its sequel Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (2018), cognitive psychologist, linguist, and Harvard Professor Steven A. Pinker states on the show:

We’ve done something right. Let’s figure out what it is and keep doing it. The reality is that we may be living in one of the most peaceful eras in human existence. Violence has been in decline, but that just doesn’t count as news. You just never see a journalist saying, “I’m reporting live, from a country that’s at peace,” or “a school that hasn’t been shot up.” Once I stumbled upon this graph, I mentioned it in a blog post, and then I received correspondence from scholars in a variety of fields, telling me that I could’ve made an even stronger case. I saw data-set after data-set, all of which showed declines in violence, in different parts of the world, with different kinds of violence. And I realized there was a story that needed to be told.

Enlightenment Now_PinkerHowever, Pinker wants to be clear about the explicit and implicit meaning of his findings so as not to be painted as a deluded optimist.

To point out that things were worse in the past is not to say we should relax, our problems are all solved, quite the contrary. It’s by understanding how our predecessors were able to drive down rates of violence that we can be emboldened to try to drive them down even further.

And this is where I was personally intrigued! How. How has this downward trend of violence, on the global scale, been achieved? What various factors and events have contributed to humanity’s gradual increase to more peaceful existences with each other?

I found the entire 1-hour 53-minute documentary to be powerful and yes, hopeful with tangible solutions and methods offered and that are in fact tried and tested for success, offering more reasons to keep this peaceful trend rising. What I found especially intriguing from the scientific and statistical findings was of the many factors scientists have connected to violence or peace, seven modern societal conditions and their related sub-conditions which guided humans either toward, hate, prejudice, and violence, or on a path of peace, collaboration, and prosperity. They were:

  • Government or State — the rule of law kept better peace
  • The Civilizing Process — economic order went hand in hand with social norms and manners, etiquette, self-control, etc.
  • Equality — learning about others with the same experiences (with empathy below)
  • Literacy — not just reading, but how much could be read about from a diverse continent or around our diverse world (e.g. Uncle Tom’s Cabin)
  • Empathy — feeling deeply about someone else’s plight and/or prosperity (linked with equality)
  • Biggest World Powers — the top major powers/armies are not fighting, at the moment
  • Testosterone Levels — today violence is no longer an effective tool to get something done or achieve conquest as it was before. Non-violent movements are 2-3 times as successful as violent movements

However, without these seven conditions above or just two to four of them or one or more in fragile existence, the whole of a civilization could collapse, returning it/us right back to Medieval societal hardships when one ruler or small group of “Lords” could easily become sadistic tyrants willing, forcing their subordinates into heinous acts or genocide. From the show:

NARRATOR: At SWPS University, in Poland, Tomasz Grzyb and Dariusz Doliński are revisiting a famous experiment first conducted in the 1960s by the American psychologist Stanley Milgram. In the aftermath of the holocaust, Milgram wanted to understand how seemingly good people could follow terrible orders.

Just as Milgram did, the experiment starts by setting up a fake study.

TOMASZ GRZYB (SWPS University): There are two participants, and there is a guy who presents himself as a professor of psychology, and he says that, “Well, you are a participant in an experiment which is devoted to find out how memory’s working.”

NARRATOR: Grzyb is masquerading as a participant, the so-called “learner.” The other participant is the “teacher.” Grzyb pretends to memorize sets of letters, but his responses are scripted. The teacher is told that the student is hooked up to the machine, and they must administer a shock, if he answers incorrectly.

Because the experiment is highly stressful for the real subject, the so-called teacher, it’s controversial. So, it will be stopped at 150 volts, the 10th switch on the panel, which, if real, would be an extremely painful shock.

Will anyone go so high?

PBS NOVAThis experiment showed that with a powerful authority figure or figures ordering the “teacher” to commit this violence—by fear, coercion, or perhaps blackmail—of the 220 participants, about 90% of them obeyed the orders. Many of us think we would never commit such heinous crimes on another, a baby, child, or adult, but this test and others like it suggest otherwise. Similar to the soldiers of Genghis Khan or the Nazi SS of World War II, all of us have the capacity to commit heinous acts given our personal circumstances and surroundings. Peace and non-violence are not a forgone conclusion.

There were two other fascinating facts the show presented:  1) the Availability Heuristic, and 2) strong Gun Regulations, particularly on assault weapons, cut in half or more, crimes of homicide and mass killings.

Availability heuristic says that a diet of news stories will fool us into thinking that violence is much more prevalent than it really is. This is very much the case with social-media bombardments of a specific (viral?) topic. On the contrary, this very narrow propaganda or sensationalism (for revenues) does not factually represent the overall global or continental trends.

Gun regulations that are widespread and strong, e.g. in 1996 Australia, contribute to significant reductions in suicide, homicide, and mass-killing rates according to these studies, click here.

Cure Violence logoFinally, an international program called Cure Violence, ranked #9 in top 500 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) in the world, stops the spread of violence by using the methods associated with disease control. And cities around the world have turned to Cure Violence to prevent violence—from the United States to Latin America to the Middle East. One method utilized in Iraq (based upon Contact Theory) is through a football/soccer league where teams must have players of various ethnicities, religious beliefs, and/or social classes, even if historically opposed, in order to enroll and play the season. In football/soccer their are no national, ethnic or religious boundaries. Players and their families are also encouraged to socialize off the soccer pitch in restaurants and home-gatherings. The soccer league and additional off-field activities have been a huge success! How about that Ark! 😉

If you ever have the chance to watch this outstanding documentary, The Violence Paradox by PBS NOVA, I highly recommend you do it! It is well worth 2-hours of your time and undivided attention. Most of all, it shows us clearly how to understand our lesser nature for violence, but more importantly it gives us proven solutions and methods of stopping the spread of the violence disease and it becoming a repetitive epidemic.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Earth: She Gives, She Takes

Just like as in a nest of boxes round,
Degrees of sizes in each box are found:
So, in this world, may many others be
Thinner and less, and less still by degree:
Although they are not subject to our sense,
A world may be no bigger than two-pence.
Nature is curious, and such works may shape,
Which our dull senses easily escape:
For creatures, small as atoms, may there be,
If every one a creature’s figure bear.
If atoms four, a world can make, then see
What several worlds might in an ear-ring be:
For, millions of those atoms may be in
The head of one small, little, single pin.
And if thus small, then ladies may well wear
A world of worlds, as pendents in each ear.

—— Margaret Cavendish,Of Many Worlds in This World

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Music: “Ocean” by Azam Ali & Loga Ramin Torkian from the album, Lamentation of Swans:  A Journey Towards Silence

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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