Reflections on “The Slap”
I didn’t see it. I admit it. I was not watching the Oscars when actor Will Smith went up on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock for a joke Rock had made about the hair loss condition from which Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, suffers. It was the slap heard round the world. The next day Smith apologized to Rock and the Academy for actions which he said were not indicative of the man he wants to be. Smith’s mother commented that this was totally out of character for her son. I don’t doubt this. I also know that we all say and do things that we regret immediately or soon after. I do, however, recall Dallas Willard saying that when we make the excuse that an action is not “who we are”, it belies the reality that is who we were in the moment in which we made the mistake. In my mind he was saying that the mistakes we make and regret, actually in some way reflect the state of our heart. Another way to say this is that when we are bumped in life, what spills out of our life, is whatever we are full of. To say this is not to blame or shame ourselves or anyone, but rather to encourage us to continue to work on the state of our heart through prayer, contemplation, study, fellowship and service because we never know when events may test us.
It is also important to note that one event or failure does not reflect the entirety of our life or even ruin it. To put it in film terms- this slap was just one scene in the larger film that is Smith’s life and should not, indeed cannot, nullify the good he has done and is doing. We would be wise not to judge others, including ourselves, on the basis of one mistake. I recall the late John Claypool speaking something like these words after the riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating: “God is much more interested in where we are going than where we have been and more interested in who we are becoming rather what we have been.”
I agree. For Will Smith. For me. For all of us.