Let me start off with a disclaimer. I am not a Ray Lewis fan. But neither am I a Ray Lewis hater. I am just a sports fan with no particular affinity to either Ray Lewis or to the Baltimore Ravens or to anything that would make you want to stop reading this post and call me biased. I’m just a fan who likes to make observations. That’s it. No agenda. Just observations.
So here’s what I’ve observed recently…
Ray Lewis – while undisputedly being one of the greatest football players ever – is also one of the most polarizing athletes to ever play a sport of any kind. No one likes him or dislikes him. You either love him or you hate him. And even those words don’t seem strong enough to describe the type of emotion that he elicits.
Part of our culture in America these days is to either idolize or demonize people who are famous. And never has that been truer than with Ray Lewis.
There’s no in between with him. Those who love him…really really love him. To them, he is more than a player, he is some type of mythical figure – a man on a mission, sent by God to knock the heads off of opposing quarterbacks and then pick them up and tell them that God loves them. He is Ray Lewis, the hero!
But to those who hate him (probably many of whom live in San Francisco these days), just the mention of his name brings a scowl. They can’t stand him! They can’t stand his loudmouth, in your face preaching. They are repulsed by his attention-seeking dancing and prancing. And most of all, they are disgusted any time they feel like he is being portrayed as a saint and a role model.
That’s Ray Lewis. Some idolize. Some demonize.
But what about you? What do you think about him? What’s your opinion?
Of course, none of us are in any position to actually judge Ray Lewis, or any man for that matter. That is not at all my intention here. My goal isn’t to come to a conclusion on whether Ray Lewis is a good guy or not. That is God’s job not mine, and I don’t feel like challenging God for His job today.
My purpose here is to discuss the process by which we, as human beings, look at one another and form our opinions of one another. Of course we should never judge, but by the same token, we are human and we can’t deny the fact that we form opinions of everyone – including people that we have never even met.
Is that someone I want my son to spend time with?
Is that someone for whom I want to work?
Is that someone who I want to open up with?
Is that someone that I want to be like?
It’s part of our nature to process information and come up with opinions based on it. That’s human nature.
So back to my question: what’s your opinion on Ray Lewis?
The question really boils down to the following for me – and this is the crux of my post: do you form your opinion based on a person’s best day? Or based on their worst day?
If the answer is “their best day”, then you probably find a lot of good in Ray Lewis. He has been heavily involved in charitable activities throughout his career – including the formation of the Ray Lewis 52 Foundation whose mission is to provide personal and economic assistance to disadvantaged youth. He is a strong advocate and personal friend to many disabled young people in the Baltimore area. In addition, he is a devout Christian man who lets the whole world know about his faith in Jesus Christ.
That’s the good. But those who hate him will never forget the bad.
In February 2000, Ray Lewis was indicted on charges of murder and aggravated assault, stemming from a fight outside an Atlanta nightclub which resulted in the stabbing deaths of two young men. Lewis was never formally charged with the double murder, but he did plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. He later reached undisclosed settlements with the families of both victims, thereby preempting any civil proceedings as well.
That’s the bad.
So which do you see? Should he be remembered and known for his good days? Or for his bad?
There’s no easy answer to this one. I am not in any way saying that his good deeds outweigh and cancel out whatever crimes he may have committed. Not saying that at all. I’m just throwing a question out there for you to think about. Should a man be remembered for his best days? Or for his worst?
Before you answer too quickly, realize that your answer has implications for yourself as well. The same rule would need to apply to you. Do you want people to remember you for your worst day? Or for your best day?
Not so easy to answer any more is it?
The question is not one that has an easy answer. It’s something that you need to figure out how you want to live. For me personally – putting Ray Lewis aside for a moment – I’d like to believe that people will remember me for my good days, not my bad days. God knows that I am not perfect as a father or a husband or a friend or a whatever. We’ve all had bad days.
But should those bad days be allowed to write our legacy? Is that how you want people to remember you?
For discussion: what is your opinion on this subject? Should people be remembered for their best days or their worst days? Why or why not?
p.s. Please leave Ray Lewis out of this discussion. I wasn’t bringing him up so that we can judge the guy. Again, that is for God. I only brought him up to illustrate a point – that we as human beings all have good and bad in our lives. Please leave him out and direct any judgmental comments towards judging yourself, not towards others.