Adrian Peterson and the glacial pace of cultural evolution
Reach out and touch me now
You aren’t the only one
with armies in your head
I guess I take the Adrian Peterson story personally, for reasons I wrote about back in 2011. To this day I remember the pain that was inflicted on me by those I loved, and who loved me. Pain inflicted because they loved me, so much that they would have laid down their lives for me without question. But in their minds, if they spared the rod they were hurting me.
It warps you, in a way. It makes you associate pain with love and justice. And at 53, I have accepted that I will never quite be okay because of it.
Cultural evolution is a slow and sometimes painful thing. What is obvious to you and me today will be obvious to everyone eventually, but eventually might mean 20 years.
This basic dynamic is a source of unending frustration for people like us, isn’t it? Being enlightened is its own reward, but anytime you’re out ahead of the curve – any curve – it necessarily comes with a maddening sense of why doesn’t everyone get this? The challenge is how to contribute to moving the pace along, speeding it up as much as possible, without going nuts yourself.
I have failed at this balancing act more times in my life than I can recall. There is a war in my head and it never stops, and when a story like this makes its way into the public consciousness the fight starts back up again. This is, in part, what I had in mind when I penned those lines at the top for a song called “Hegemony,” which appeared on Fiction 8’s Project Phoenix CD.
The good news, I guess, is that right now Adrian Petersen is doing for child abuse what Ray Rice has done for domestic abuse. There are almost certainly children out there who will never be subjected to this kind of violence again, thanks to the attention on this story.
The pace of cultural evolution isn’t moving fast enough for me, but at least it’s moving.