We don’t know how we would have acted in the heated moment. We only know how the people in the heated moment acted. It’s rather like Portia in “The Merchant of Venice,” who can speak with glorious beauty about the greatness of God’s mercy until she has Shylock in her mercy. She then shows none. This weekend, we saw the play and I have to admit, I’d only read snatches of it in my studies, so I knew very little going in to the play.
It’s problematic at best, because of the constant anti-semitism. I realized how Superhero my thinking had become. I wanted even my fictional characters to when they sang with the beauty of the angels with words, to live it out equally well. We also want the same from our actors who play fictional characters. I didn’t want Will Smith to punch or swear, even as I did want him to defend his wife, and I didn’t want Chris Rock to take cheap shots, but I was glad when he didn’t press charges. I’m mentally hoping for some sort of resolution where the two men with Jada show up to give out awards next year. It would make for a great moment both of television and everyone who thinks they could handle what we weren’t asked to handle, better.
We should long for them to discover how to respond to suffering and pain and anger with grace. We should want a resolution where everyone comes to the feast –where no one is pushed away and permanently shunned, because we don’t want to be that one that finds themselves knocking on a closed door. Forgiveness and mercy are not things to offer as a bribe to get the outcome one wants, but as a gift, to be received or not, by those who need it. We need to be better, to seek to be better, most especially when it is hard.
The world keeps threatening to burn, and we keep discovering, the temptation to glory in the dark joy of war, of wrath disguised as righteous fury. After these past two years, can we honestly say there is anyone on this Earth, who does not need mercy? The adult thing in life is the hard thing that is not reactionary but reflective in nature, and points to the world we aspire to shape.
Here’s hoping that the world and the Oscars can go back to being boring, where the only drama is in the films themselves. In the rest of the real world, we can seek to not merely say the beautiful words, but live the life that proves we believe those words –being a peace maker, a giver of mercy, one who mourns with those who mourn, who fees the hungry, clothes the naked, visits the imprisoned and cares for the sick and prays for the dead. We must live the beatitudes if we would have a beautiful world.