The news of the death of Junior Seau, former all-pro linebacker of the San Diego Chargers NFL team, was a shock to the system even in light of the recent disclosures on the effects of concussions and brain injuries on athletes, especially football players.
In a sport of gladiators and modern-day warriors, Junior stood tall. Thirteen times all-pro, he earned the respect of teammate and foe alike and influenced countless young players with his fierce competitiveness balanced by sportsmanship and compassion for the community that he played in.
The sad and premature nature of his passing will spark calls to ban or radically change the game, and hopefully will also spark some common-sense steps to deal more sensibly with the risk involved. The important thing in the short run is that the owners and management recognize the scope of the problem and implement steps that can address the immediate problem; symptoms; and address those who are already suffering the effects of their years of uninformed risk, while also addressing the urgent problem of reducing that risk and increasing the education about the risk in order to solve the core health risks before they begin.
Something that may or may not get the attention that it needs is the overall state of our society that has elevated suicide to the fifth highest cause of death in our state. And that takes into account only those that succeed. Some of the problems illuminated when in the spotlight of celebrity, sports or otherwise, are just symptoms of a greater trend in our society.
I do not want to turn this into something political or into a religious treatise, but I think that in marginalizing faith and forcing each generation to live in a world that is more and more bereft of the values and compassion that all of the mainstream faiths teach we have more and more created a mind-set that we are on our own, that we have to fight for everything we get and someone is always there ready to take it away. Is it any wonder that, when things come crashing down and you have no one to blame but your own choices or the choices of those around you, you are left feeling as though you have no control, no way of correcting things. You don’t have the strength to do it on your own, and you have been too tied up in your pursuit of your own happiness that you failed to build the kind of support system that used to build through the church and the clubs and the bowling nights or the Bible studies. Now we come home and chat with faceless usernames on the internet and complain about our neighbors whom we have never met, or met once and didn’t like them; they had noisy kids or their dog barked or their house is an ugly color.
I am just saying that if we are to stem the tide of hopelessness that seems to plague our country, and especially our youth, our athletes, and our soldiers, They need to know that it is not all their fault, they are not at the mercy of those around them, and there is a power higher than themselves that does already have things figured out.
I will paraphrase a great quote from a movie clip that I saw the other day. I did not catch the name of the movie, but the words resonated with me.
“Everything will be fine in the end, so if things are not looking good, it must not yet be the end.”
God has everything planned and all the battles have already been won, save for the individual battles which we continue to fight against ourselves. We need our faith to help us realize who the enemy really is.
We need to find ways to help those who are struggling to keep looking up. We need to bring faith back into vogue, because, when times are looking their worst, faith is the only thing that can sustain us.