Accountability and Grace
As the dust begins to settle on the unfortunate events at the 2022 Academy Awards, I have some thoughts.
In the rare event you have no idea what I'm talking about: last week Sunday (March 27), legendary actor, musical artist, and producer Will Smith made the terrible decision to slap comedian Chris Rock over his remarks about his wife Jada's appearance, followed by an expletive-filled rebuke. Specifically, Rock referenced Jada's bald head (caused by alopecia) in expressing excitement at her starring in a potential GI Jane remake. Ironically, he went on to win the Oscar for "Best Actor" for his work in the film King Richard.
While I didn't see it happen live, my social media feeds soon filled with the shocking clip, and naturally an avalanche of opinions came tumbling after. Opinions ranged from cheering Will's actions on as an act of defending his wife's honor to a call for Will to be arrested and charged, not to mention massive expressions of disgust and loss of respect for the once nearly universally beloved actor, among many other offshoot conversations on too many greater topics to count.
My first reaction was much like that of the people in the audience: shock. It seemed surreal; I believed it was a planned joke until Will started cussing. In the growing sea of polarized opinions, I'd like to take a different approach. I'm neither interested in praising or condemning Will. Naturally, I would have rather that he didn't choose to carry out a physical attack on live television. On the other hand, I'm also quite hesitant to judge his entire character on a singular, highly unusual (albeit unpleasant) event.
Instead, I'd like to ask all of us to be aware of two great forces at work in this scenario and in all of our lives: accountability and grace. Accountability, like a stern father, urges us to take full responsibility for our actions and deal with the consequences accordingly, harsh as they may be. on the other had Grace, like a nurturing mother, sees our mistakes and reminds us that although we are imperfect, we are no less valued and are indeed deserving of redemption. Both accountability and grace must be applied; too much of one or the other will either mete out punishment that is far too harsh in comparison to the blunder, or leave one with the impression that they can do as they please, up to and including hurting others, without consequence.
In the case of Will he most certainly should be held accountable for his actions, and apparently this process has begun. As of this writing, Will has resigned from the Academy, and the Academy will still be proceeding with disciplinary action. He has also apologized via social media and public statements, and I wouldn't doubt that he has either had or will likely have a discussion with Chris himself. Even so, the general public still has those within it that want Will to be buried under the weight of a single poor choice, completely negating over 30 years of work and a generally good reputation. To have this come to pass would set an ugly precedent, that one would have to achieve perfection in order to be worthy of compassion. This misses the whole point of what compassion is.
Honestly, the only difference between Will and our own worst moments is that a camera happened to be rolling during his. Before you point your finger outward at Will or anyone else who makes and honest mistake or has a lapse in judgment, bear in mind that there are three more fingers pointing back at you. Not one of us is immune from making a massive blunder in our own lives, therefore it's in your best interest to extend the grace you wish to receive lest you too have your own moment of self-inflicted public humiliation.
We all live in glass houses. Put your stones down.