The Oscars’ rock and a hard place

28 03 2022

No! The events at last night’s Oscar ceremony do not need any more attention than they are already being given. It is likely that the media will be covering what happened for days, and so the last thing anyone needs is another White guy’s interpretation of what happened.

So I will try not to do that. But (and I realize that buts abound in my world!), I am compelled to write about what I am thinking and feeling this morning because my thoughts and feelings are not new. I’ve been thinking and feeling them for a while; and writing things down often helps me to better understand both myself, as well as my ever-changing role in the world around me. And this morning, I have come to two realizations!

First, life continually confronts us with competing values: with freedom comes responsibility; where there is no justice there can be no peace; and forgiveness does not mean acceptance. Sometimes these competing values can be summed up in a short, simple phrase: tough love, democratic socialism, or righteous anger. When it comes to our values, I don’t believe any of us can be singularly focused because life is too complex, and our choices are never merely black or white.

The second realization is that the events of last night, like so many events that have taken place in our country over the past few years, have forced me to boldly stand in the tension that results from these competing values. I can’t escape that, and this morning those competing values need to be both acknowledged, and celebrated!

In the Spirit of Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jesus himself, my first commitment is to non-violence. (And while I say this is my ‘first’ commitment, it does not come before any of my other commitments, but rather is merely the first one I am choosing to mention here.) I believe we are all called to live in non-violent ways, and I think I have strived to do that most of my life. I DID have fights with my siblings when I was growing up, and I DID spank my children when they were little; but outside of throwing a rock at Edmund Sullivan when I was in middle school, I can’t think of a time when I’ve ever been violent. This is how I believe Christ-followers are called to behave. And as Easter approaches, one can’t help but be reminded of how non-violence is the only way we can find victory over the grave, and the sole way to find life in the face of death. Non-violence may never be the guiding principle of a nation-state’s foreign policy, and in certain situations people may believe it to be justifiable for them to take violent action in order to bring about something good; but for me, violence only promotes violence. And this is true both on the world stage, when evil dictators invade other countries and kill innocent people, as well as on a Hollywood stage, when a celebrity seeks to defend the honor of someone they love. While I am not putting the dictator and the celebrity in the same category, both give evidence to my belief that violence is never the answer; and at the very least, other options should always be considered first!

But having said that, my second commitment, which is equally important, is to doing whatever I can to confront and dismantle racism our land. And at this point in our history, what this means is that as a well-educated, economically advantaged, White, Christian, heterosexual man, who has been ‘running the show’ for centuries, I need to simply sit down and be quiet! I’ve been calling the shots, making the rules, and telling people what to do and how to live for far too long. And this is particularly true when it comes to the actions and behavior of marginalized groups of people both here in America, and around the world. At this point in time, my thoughts and opinions on a given situation are neither required nor needed! People don’t need me to hold them accountable, pass judgement on their actions, preach to them about forgiveness, or make it appear as though I have some kind of moral high ground from which to declare the solutions to all of the world’s problems. For when it comes to the ‘right thing to do’ — history has no choice but to give people like me a failing grade. Which is why it’s time for other voices to be heard. It’s time for other people to offer words of counsel and advice. It’s time for other people, people not like me, to chart the course forward in order to bring about the healing, wholeness, and health that is so desperately needed today. I have nothing to say that isn’t already being said, and the world will survive without my opining.

Can I hang on to both of these values and commitments in light of all that is happening today? I believe I can. And I believe I must!

So now, at the risk of a blog-post like this denying everything I’ve just said, I will take my own advice, sit down, and keep my mouth shut!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: