Will Smith and Chris Rock.
There, I have called their names.
Trending topics are hot topics. They are sure to attract attention and create clicks for our comments and blogs.
They also encourage us to write, speak, or comment before we have time to process our own thoughts and temper our remarks.
Immediacy is not always the friend of authenticity.
They also encourage us to meddle in other people's business on a global level. Then, it becomes everyone's business because it triggers issues that belong to all of us.
The recent episode with Chris Rock and Will Smith raised issues that transcend their characters and behaviors. These issues include insensitivity, appropriate humor, respect, violence, self-control, decency, the stewardship of influence, shame, and on and on and on.
They also include the power and place of apology and accepting responsibility for one's own actions. There is accountability from outside of ourselves which we cannot control, but there is also self-accountability.
Yesterday, both Will Smith and Chris Rock, published sincere apologies to each other, to Will's wife, and to the public, taking accountability for their actions and making themselves vulnerable.
Apologies do not make us heroes necessarily and they do not fix what is broken. But they can be the first step toward restoration, reconciliation, and growth. As such, while we may not applaud them, we should affirm them and learn from them.
Then, we learn the lessons of how to live.
Hurtful humor wounds souls. That is never OK. Laughter is the best medicine, but it can also be a weapon. Comedy can be a force for good, but it can also destroy people. It should be weighed and measured before it is delivered.
Violence is pervasive in our society and is almost never appropriate. It is usually delivered disproportionately, even by those who intend to use it as protection of themselves and others.
The news is full of it: spousal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, retaliatory murders, excessive use of force to subdue criminals, pushing and shoving, road rage. The list is as long as the day.
It is obvious that Will Smith is no street fighter by his form. It is obvious to me that both he and Chris Rock have far better sides to their natures. Both are gifted and both have contributed much. Both are hurting right now and realize what they have done wrong.
We should forgive them even if we continue to condemn their actions. We condemn that we might learn and teach. Once an act is public it becomes the property and legacy of the public and the actors in the drama become reluctant, but perpetual teachers and object lessons.
Going further, Jada Pinkett Smith is a lesson in courage, strength, and beauty. I love that she has embraced her life and become an example to so many who might succumb to body shaming. And I love Will Smith's love and loyalty for her, however misplaced his expression of that might have been.
It is interesting to see how people are taking sides in this thing, almost the way we did at a schoolyard fight forgetting that the real heroes are those who broke up the fight.
The only fight I ever got in at school brought me and the other guy to the principals' office where we became fast allies and best buddies. By the way, if I sucker slap someone to defend my wife, I will have a high price to pay when I get home.
I hope to see great work from Will and Chris and Jada in the future.
Now, a lesson about jumping the gun: After writing all of this, I see that the apology attributed to Chris has been reported as fake. My solution is that he simply say, "I did not write that, but I endorse it as representing how I really feel."
Most of what I said is still true.
Then, what I said will be true and we can all move on.