After Jovan Belcher did the unthinkable by killing his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then committing suicide in front of his coaches and general manager his quarterback, Brady Quinn, commented about really knowing the people that we see on a regular basis. Going beyond the superficial "how are you?" and really finding out how they are actually faring in this life. I do not know that him really "knowing" Jovan would have done anything to prevent the tragedy. Belcher did the unthinkable. Murder is not something that enters the consciousness of most people. There is no guarantee that intervention would have prevented the tragedy. It was reported that the team was aware of that the couple had some problems and offered counseling. Clearly some outreach had occurred but obviously it did not prevent this crime.
This murder-suicide is an extreme case. But what about the non-extreme? What about those we see on a regular basis that may be secretly in pain or they may have shared some things but on the surface they appear ok? In my short 35 years on this earth, I have had the unfortunate experience of illness and injuries that led to numerous surgeries. Over 10 years ago, I had the left lobe of my thyroid removed which left a very dark and visible scar on my neck. It has since become fairly unnoticeable but at the time it was quite apparent. I considered wearing a turtleneck or even buttoning my top button to conceal the scar. I just knew that people were going to assume the worst. But then I decided to do a little experiment to see if anyone would in fact show some concern. Initially it was difficult because most people that I regularly came in contact with knew I had the surgery. Eventually two brothas actually said something to me. One guy I knew and the other I didn't. The first guy was a bit more dramatic. I quickly had to tell him I had surgery. The other guy was quite calm and just ask what happened. I explained but also asked him if he thought I had gotten beat up and what he would have said if in fact I told him that I had been abused. He said he was going to tell me that I deserve better. Needless to say, it warmed my heart that he showed some concern and he did not even know me.
In 2011, I started the year with foot surgery and ended it with my third knee surgery. Anyone that has experienced injuries knows that significant perhaps lengthy rehab is required to be restored back to normal. When I was on crutches and when I wore an immobilization boot, people were very accommodating and caring. But once those obvious signs of vulnerability were removed, the care and concern diminished greatly. Granted not using those assistive devices are an indication of progress. However, there was still a long road ahead in the rehab process and I had many painful days. I often wondered if I would be suspected of fraud for still using my handicap parking permit because I no longer had the obvious signs of disability. With me being younger and working on a college campus with limited parking, my concern was not outside of the realm of possibility. My brother had that experience while rehabbing a surgically repaired achilles tendon. He was no longer using crutches but no where near recovered and a police officer questioned him. That did not happen to me but many times I felt that people lacked the understanding of my pain once the obvious signs were gone.
We do live in a fast-paced, superficial, self-indulgent society. Collectively we are experiencing the erosion of decency, civility, courtesy, and concern for others. We are seeing the flashy, rude, violent, dramatic, arrogant, and the bratty get a lot of shine. Let's not settle for the world as it is. Let's make it what it should be. Do what you can. If you can bear the expense of a meal for another, please do so. Money is tight and many people do not have enough food. It is likely that they will never tell you of their plight but they will be forever thankful. If you can say a kind word to the loner in the office, please do so. If you can take just a minutes to actually find out a how a person is really doing, please do so. If you can spare a few minutes to make a phone call just to say hi and that I was thinking about you, please do so.
Many are the walking wounded. Some with visible scars and some with not-so visible scars. We are in the holiday season and sadly there is a higher occurrence of suicide during this time. Many people are grieving, experiencing loneliness, and suffering from depression. It is overwhelming to consider how much people are suffering and the depth of their pain. However it is encouraging to know that a little can go a long way. A genuine small gesture can make someone's day and give them hope. A genuine small gesture can give them the confidence boost to move forward. A genuine small gesture can let them know that they are not alone and that someone does indeed care.