“World building” is the process of constructing an imaginary universe. Some authors, directors, and playwrights are so proficient at creating these fictional worlds that their works become alternate realities for some people.
How many of you are obsessed with Game of Thrones? Have you ever dabbled in the Star Wars expanded universe and its thousands of films, comics, and novels? The Harry Potter franchise has its own theme park for Dumbledore’s sake.
World building has long-been a staple of professional wrestling. They call it “kayfabe”- staged events and fixed matches portrayed as actual competition, rivalries, and relationships. Sorry Virginia, The Undertaker isn’t really undead. Although that example is slightly absurd, sometimes it’s tough to tell what’s real and what’s fake… Which is the point, after all.
This week, WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns vacated his title on live television. At first, plenty of fans probably assumed it was just another storyline fresh from the noggins of the creative department.
But Reigns, whose real name is Joe Anoa’i, announced he’s been diagnosed with leukemia. He revealed he’s been battling the blood cancer for over a decade, unbeknownst to nearly everyone. The fact that a 6-foot-3, 265-pound pillar of muscle and masculinity has been quietly coping with such a serious disease was a shock- not only to the audience, but to his colleagues in the locker room.
Reigns has been reviled by the WWE Universe for quite a while now; simply the result of fans not liking his character or its direction. But how many people would’ve booed him if they knew he had cancer? His announcement shattered the concept of kayfabe and serves as a somber reminder of the cruel, unforgiving real world.
We are all fighting silent battles. It’s easy to criticize, critique, and correct. It’s hard to have compassion. The next time you’re tempted to tease someone. take a moment to consider the cross they’re carrying. Maybe there’s a very legitimate reason for being sad, short tempered, or shy… and perhaps they have no interest in sharing that information with you. Give the people in your life the benefit of a doubt. and one relationship at a time, we can build this world into a better place.