For the longest while, humans’ apparent inability to let go of the past has fascinated me. The picture above shows two of my favorite men. I really like them and admire them because of their hard work and determination over the years which has paid off in their eminent successes. Both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mel Gibson (hereafter referred to as “Arnie” and “Mel”) were not born into wealth and indeed had a lot of challenges growing up (like most of us) which I won’t go into here. However, unlike most of us, they have managed to turn around their misfortunes into huge fortunes.
Yet, ask any other random person on the street what they think about them and you might be met with uncaged vitriol. Why? Because despite each having illustrious careers spanning over 4 decades, all that the public seems to remember about Arnie and Mel is a single act of indiscretion on their part, one having to do with infidelity and the other with alcoholic rage (details of which I also won’t get into here either).
Mind you, these two men are celebrities, so is it that we think they are some kind of gods, immune to frailties like the rest of us? I have watched with deep consternation over the years as the public seems eager to pick apart the private lives of celebrities as though they’re thirsty for blood. What is this lynch mentality that pervades our modern “civilization”? Has it been etched into our DNA from savage days of yore when we witnessed public executions as depicted in “Braveheart” (one of Mel’s mega-hits)?
I am trying to understand why, as human beings, we cannot allow other people to just be human beings?
What is this desire to taint the successes of a person and to revel in their misery? As Shakespeare famously wrote, “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.”
Such a sad reality. Why are so eager to remember the one thing that went wrong and forget the millions of things that went right? Are we by nature, a pessimistic race, or has society made us so? Are we so accustomed to focusing on the negative that the positive seems insignificant? Or is it a matter of jealousy? Does our “survival instinct” dictate that we tear others apart to make ourselves look better? We’ve probably all heard by now that “Blowing out another’s candle won’t make yours shine any brighter” yet very few seem to believe that as evidenced by the dirty rumor-mongering that we witness daily and the “trolling” that’s rampant on social media websites.
Celluloid magazines make their livelihoods by selling scandals; a healthy relationship is “too boring”. Princess Diana was literally chased to death; the public mourned at her funeral but they lapped up every juicy detail about the troubles in her marriage. In the end, she was really alone. When everyone seems to enjoy your dysfunctional relationship, to whom or what do you turn for comfort?
Some people deliberately create scandals to draw attention to themselves. Dysfunction becomes the norm. But should it?
I have often wondered about the price of fame and I’ve concluded that if it comes with loss of my peace, I don’t want it. But we have a local saying here in Trinidad, “You cyah play mas and ‘fraid powder” which in this context basically means that, if you’re going to be seen and heard by the world, you’ll have to accept the consequences that come with it.
I still don’t feel like I want fame but I do feel like I have a message to deliver. I feel that my perspectives could add some value to society. But I’ve realized over the years that no matter how much good you do, there will always be people who try to pull you down. The point is, to be stronger than that. And maybe if we, as a society can stand together collectively and stop the rumor mills by refusing to buy scandalous magazines and newspapers, maybe we could get somewhere because people’s entire reputations and lives are destroyed when things get blown out of proportion.
I always use 2 rules of thumb when deciding what I should repeat:
- Before you speak, THINK- is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?
- If I didn’t see it with my own eyes and hear it with my own ears, I shouldn’t repeat it with my big mouth..
The above have helped me to keep silent on many occasions, after all, “Silence IS golden.”
Many times, in fact, EVERY time, we don’t really know what’s going on in people’s personal lives or their hearts and minds. It helps to remember that they’re human, just like the rest of us. It helps to remember that we all make mistakes. And it also helps to remember that everyone deserves a second chance. After all, what would we like in their situation? That’s right. Forgiveness. We’d all like a chance to move on from the past. To start afresh. So why keep holding other people to their past? If they keep repeating the same mistakes, well, that’s another story.
The fact that I admire Arnie and Mel does not mean I condone their transgressions; it just means that I look past that and choose to admire all the other brilliant things that they’ve done instead. It is also clear that they have both been making sincere efforts to improve themselves as individuals (which we should all be doing too). Mel has been intoxicant-free for over a decade and I think that Arnie makes a fine “governator” and has the potential to do more good in the world. See, there’s hope for all of us.
So instead of seeing negatives, how about we focus on the positives for a change? Change starts with you. As Gandhi, messenger of peace said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”