This is a time and occasion that tests us. Now that we’ve heard about the repulsive tirade by Mel Gibson, we’ve had the chance to express our visceral reactions. The question for all of us who are concerned is, “What now?” Can there be redemption?
Many folks’ initial reaction of loathing is certainly understandable, especially among those of us who are Jews. These sorts of expressions hurt all the more when directed at us. The fact of the matter is that we all must fight the demons of hate. It seems that we all harbor feelings towards groups whom we think don’t share our values or for those who don’t care for us. Most of us seem not to hold these feelings to the degree that Mel Gibson expressed at his arrest (or at least we’re wise enough and sober enough not to express them). Now is the time to see if we can live up to the ideals that we profess to understand and which we hope to see in others.
Over the years I’ve lived here in Malibu, I’ve had occasion to meet the Gibsons. Again and again, I’ve attended fundraisers and events where the Gibsons have given extraordinary amounts of their time, efforts and money. None of us can deny that they’ve given much more to our community than one might expect from a celebrity or anyone else. The conflict in my mind is that the Mel Gibson I’ve come to be acquainted with is not the same person who was driving on PCH last week. Who is the real person?
Despite my first reaction to what was said in that ugly, drunken tirade, I’d like to think of myself as someone who has the ability and desire to forgive. While this isn’t easy and sometimes seems to be impossible, it’s an ideal for which we should strive. My religion, however, teaches me that forgiveness is reserved for those who are truly repentant and who take actions to right the wrong.
For what he has done in the past, Mel Gibson has earned an opportunity to obtain forgiveness. What happened can’t be undone. The issue is what happens from here. Gibson has taken full responsibility for his actions with no excuses. If his remorse is sincere and if he takes the actions that will repair the damage done, Mel Gibson still has at least one Jewish friend in Malibu.