Yesterday while eating dinner at a popular restaurant, I was distracted by the big screen television. ESPN was showing a clip of a young college basketball player, Marcus Smart shoving a fan. The young man had been trying to steal the ball from a Texas Tech player when he stumbled and fell out-of-bounds. An older man wearing a Texas Tech t-shirt was seen yelling as Marcus got to his feet, and then the player moved towards the fan and shoved him.
I’m watching this with the sound off, so I do not know what led up to the incident. I read this morning that the fan called Marcus a “piece of crap” before the kid shoved him.
My first thought was how this incident parallels something that happened here in the city over a year ago. A similar circumstance, where an adult mouths off to a kid, but this time it resulted in a crime.
The adult is on trial for murder. The man pulled up to a gas station/convenience store and waited in the car while his fiancée went in to buy a bottle of wine. Next to him was a large Dodge Durango filled with four teens and their loud music. The man remarked to his fiancée as she got out of the car, “I hate that thug music.”
The man asked the teens to turn down their music. They complied, but one of the teens mouthed off to the man, and the man retaliated with a gun and nine bullets that tore through the truck and killed the teen.
Here’s my thought. We’re the adults. We are the grown-ups with the wisdom of experience, and the hard-fought self -control. We don’t mouth off to the boss. We don’t threaten the tax collector, or the cop who pulls us over. We know better.
Teens have undeveloped brains. They are still learning how to control the impulsive behavior. The kind of behavior that causes them to speak without thought to consequences. Teens are not fully grown, they are not yet emotionally mature. It’s up to the adults to teach them self-control, through our words, and more importantly, through our actions.
We show restraint. We roll up our window, or move to a different parking space. We don’t yell insults at a kid playing his heart out, no matter how rabidly devoted we are to our team.
Maybe if adults start acting like adults, we can avoid tragedies.