Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mel Gibson: a Fortunate Man?

It has been interesting to hear and read all the opinions and, in most cases, condemnations of Mel Gibson's recent drunken anti-Semitic rant. So far, I believe he is dealing with his inexcusable, foul, hate-filled tirade as well as is possible. I also believe he will be dealing with it for, perhaps the rest of his life. I am not Jewish so I cannot, nor should I, address how those who are Jewish should respond to Mr. Gibson's apology. I will leave that to be sorted out by those directly affected.

It occurs to me, however, that Mr. Gibson may be considered a fortunate man. This may seem an odd or even outrageous thing to say, given the circumstances. Well, let me explain what I mean.

Most of us like to think that we are basically good people. After all:

We've never murdered anyone.
(But we can think of a few who deserve it).

We haven't cheated on our spouse.
(Though we may have thought about it).

We've never stolen anything.
(Except that Post-It pad or music download.).

We've only told a couple of "White Lies".
(But they were really necessary).

We may have laughed at a racist or anti-Semitic joke.
(But we didn't mean it.)

The fact of the matter is that we all have built up a facade of excuses, denials and outright lies about what is really in our hearts. We excuse our secret hatreds, lusts, duplicities, coveting, and egotism by pretending we're not as bad as that other guy. We manage to keep others oblivious to our dark secret because we've also convinced ourselves that it isn't there. But it is there and it is rotting our souls from the inside out. The last thing we want to do is to draw back the veil and confront the ugliness in our own hearts. Often times, it takes a traumatic experience to make us face that which we have long kept secret in the dark recesses of our souls. Sadly, that may never happen for far too many. That is why Mr. Gibson may be considered a fortunate man.

He is now being forced to confront a very ugly and horrible hatred he has held in his heart, probably from his childhood. How he addresses it with the Jewish community is very important. Although, what is just as important is whether he decides to recognize and remove the decay or just slap another layer of plaster on it and pretend that it's not there. It will not be a pleasant business. Excising evil can be nothing else. However, like removing cancer or a rotting tooth, it must be done before true healing can begin.

As for those of us not as "fortunate" as Mr. Gibson, we would do well to learn from what he is going through. Perhaps we should look, really look into our own hearts and not be satisfied with saying to ourselves, "I'm basically a good person," because we aren't. Not really.