Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson recently lost a son; that is unquestionably tragic, and Peterson has received many condolences over it. That's a good thing so far as it goes, and perhaps in that light it's too soon to reflect negatively upon the crisis. Still, there are certain things about the death which reflect ill of our society, and unfortunately Peterson is among the guilty for at least part of the neglect involved.
To be sure, he had nothing to do with the actual killing. And he has, since he found out about the child being his about three months ago, been trying to arrange a meeting with the young man. But has this raised any questions about personal responsibility for our own children to the degree that it should?
If he had not found out that the child was his son, there would have been no condolences. There would have been no talk from Peterson himself about being ready for his next big football game and playing through the pain, no trips to South Dakota for the funeral of a son he didn't really know. In short, the support he has gotten through the NFL and its fans was predicated on a rather tenuous connection: the slain toddler happened to have been found out as the child of a football star pretty much immediately before his death. Peterson had not even met him yet.
What we are getting at is simply that a certain irresponsibility has led to both the birth and death of this child. He was born of a mother and father who by all surface indications weren't properly committed to the child in the first place. That is the hidden tragedy of the whole situation, the part of the equation which will receive little public comment. If mom and dad had been in a committed relationship before the child had been conceived he might well be alive today.
That is the one sad part of the case which will not be considered properly. And beyond the child's biological parents, perhaps we as a society are guilty of something too: tolerating behaviors which lead to such terrible losses of life.
This was more than a murder. It was evidence of a general relaxation of personal morals tolerated by an increasingly hedonistic society. Its makes us wonder how many other innocent young men and women have paid the ultimate price for our sins.
Almost any football player will talk about how important discipline is when trying to win a game. How many of them, how many of us, truly consider how important discipline is to living a good life for ourselves and, indeed, for our children? Obviously not enough of us.