They Lived Happily Ever After…and They Didn’t Throw any Punches or Spit

This morning, I read several lies and truths about domestic violence. The internet has a way of making us all experts…and idiots. I did find this one interesting.

“Prior to the mid-1800s, most legal systems accepted wife-beating (today’s term is domestic violence) as a valid exercise of a husband’s authority over his wife. One exception, however, was the 1641 Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, which declared that a married woman should be “free from bodily correction or stripes by her husband.”

How far have we come in 373 years?

“One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.”
1 Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy. National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000)

One of the compelling characteristics of stories is how we are drawn to change in a character. How they viewed the world before understanding that they were flawed, wrong, broken, but now on the mend, permanently…forever changed, or as the story books say, “they lived happily ever after.”

And so it goes with just about anything in the human drama that is broken, slavery, bigotry, violence, misplaced governments that replace moral codes with corporate structures via capitalism, fascism, socialism or another dogma of the day. That’s why I read books, it’s why I watch people walk by in shopping malls, and on big screens at football games, and stare at the couple sitting on a park bench holding hands, still, after sixty years of marriage, because I love the forever changed idea.

It’s also why I watch movies, not so much Captain America: Winter Soldier, but movies like Belle or Chariots of Fire or Field of Dreams, because action isn’t what happens on the screen by the magic of pyro-hyper-cinematic wunderkinds, real action is what happens between one’s ears, and the magic is when you see that forever changed written on their face, in their trembling voice, the cold heart of stone now malleable, soft, righteous and whole.

I’ve grown tired of watching Ray Rice and Roger Goodell and the amateur life experts of ESPN, Fox News and MSNBC, righteously opine appropriate domestic behavior and respect for one another. But, if overpaid athletes and stumbling commissioners dripping with testosterone and soaked in the klieg lights of adoration and Adonis-like worship bring all of us to the table of discussion about a desperately needed forever change, then perhaps all the talk ad nauseam about the laying on of hands by both men and women who won’t or can’t get along with one another, can become a good thing, a conversation that needs to happen now and continue until the ignorance is exorcised from the hearts of those who are now deaf, blind and stubborn.

The conversation about domestic violence continues. Much finger-pointing, lot’s of stereotypes, the military, police officers, congress, the clergy, NBA versus NFL. Aren’t we all ignorant? Aren’t we all guilty? I confess on both counts.

Something to think about as you read Facebook rants and Twitter blurbs about domestic violence. It starts with our own, our own families, our own spouses, our own children. And an awareness that hearts of stone sometimes take hundreds of years to soften.

It took 373 years to remove the ignorance from the stone hearts of 75% of our domestic culture who share a bed and a home and sometimes children. Perhaps this conversation is our moment, a point of time now simply a pin-prick of light at the end of a tunnel from which we will walk into the revealed light of domestic bliss, soon I hope, forever changed.

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