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Where Is The Passion Of Compassion?

by Jonathan Flora

August ,2006

 

There is this scene in a movie you may have heard of.  In it, a man stoops down and places his finger in the dirt to write.  As he does, the dust from the ground explodes with the power of the words being drawn.  We then see several defeated men toss their stones to the ground and walk away.

 

Why is it certainly no surprise that many of these same men (and women) are back and hurling their stones at another man with all their might?  Shame on any of us, if we do not step in front of this man to deflect the rocks that are thrown with no other intent other than to cause pain and destroy his life.

 

There is no excuse for Mel Gibson’s actions this past weekend.  But, where is the compassion to understand how this man got to the place in his battle with the ugly disease of alcoholism that a situation like this can occur?  Where did we lose the knowledge that ALL men are not without sin, even those prideful and self declared “sinless” stone-throwers that have so quickly stepped out from the dark shadows to once again attack.  As angry as they make me, their colors have been known and shown for years.  

 

One of the first to throw a stone that has been in his arsenal bag locked and loaded since The Passion Of The Christ is Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League.  Foxman claims, “His tirade finally reveals his true self and shows that his protestations during the debate over his film The Passion Of The Christ, that he is such a tolerant, loving person, were a sham.”  What happened to the ADL’s claim a few years earlier that they, “do not know what is in his [Mel’s] heart?”

 

At the same time, the ADL announced they are launching a website to monitor “hate” groups, of which they include pro-life organizations.  This is the same ADL that in a 2000 press release cheered the Nebraska judicial decision barring the partial-birth abortion ban signed by the President of the United States.  This of course proves they can hurl rocks with both hands.

 

The stones are coming from all directions.  In today’s USA Today, it was written that the View’s Barbara Walters told viewers she would not see another Gibson film and agent Ari Emanuel posted the public call for studios to boycott Gibson.

 

As Catholic League President Bill Donahue points out, “Mel’s enemies will never cut him a break.  Their real goal is to discredit The Passion Of The Christ.  How ironic it is to note that the core message of his film – forgiveness – is sorely lacking in his critics.”  Yet, “In 2003, Roman Polanski, the convicted child rapist, received a standing ovation when he won an Oscar for The Pianist.”    

 

However, I commend Orin Aviv, Disney for standing by Mel.  In Aviv’s statement he says, “We all make mistakes and I’ve accepted his apology to what was a regrettable situation.”

 

Mel has apologized and I believe him.  Listen to how his apology differs from so many other celebrities (be they Hollywood, sports, or other) when those people, instead of claiming responsibility, blame the recipient of their actions for the way they felt as a result of what was said or done. 

 

"I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested… I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry.  I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse."  He went on to say he was taking "necessary steps to ensure my return to health."  He has entered a rehab clinic.

 

Gibson also apologized for his actions as he was taken into custody calling it "my belligerent behavior." 

 

"The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person," he added.

 

And today, he asked to meet with Jewish leaders to find, “a path to healing.”

 

While Foxman goes on to claim Gibson’s apology is “unremorseful and insufficient” that is not what I read.

 

I hear a man that is taking full responsibility for his self-described “belligerent” actions.  I hear a man that is grateful no one else was injured.  I hear a man crying out for help in his losing fight with alcoholism.

 

Our faith is not testified to by living a perfect life.  In spite of how Mel’s critics present themselves as they take careful aim and cock their arms, the last time I checked, Christ was the only perfect man to walk the earth.  Our greatest witness can be how we react or respond when we fall and Mel has stood up, brushed himself off, repented, and asked for help.

 

Our witness to others is also how we respond to those that did fall.  Already, I am so disappointed with how Christians have turned their backs on Mel or at least, certainly not rushed to his aid.  What happened?  In my eyes, all of a sudden I see a lot of Peters claiming, “I do not know the man!”

 

This is the same man that we so enthusiastically embraced and carried on our shoulders, loudly cheering him for his boldness in bringing us the movie that shook up Hollywood and the world. 

 

Where are we now in this man’s greatest hour of need?  “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  Are you that friend?

 

And if not, I ask you to please keep your stones in your pockets for we all are with sin.  Yes, even you.

 


 


 


 

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