Although most of America has moved on from Gibson’s embarrassing remarks of 2006, journalists still love to reference that night because controversy sells.
In a recent interview with Robert Downey Jr, Downey said he would only do Iron Man 4 if Gibson directed it. A journalist decided to post the interview and commented that Disney will probably not allow Gibson to direct because of his tarnished reputation. Is it really still tarnished?
Mel Gibson is famous for many things. For the kinder people out there your thoughts may have drifted towards Braveheart, The Man Without A Face, or The Passion when you read the title of this post. If you tend to remember other details, your mind might have considered the infamous night of drunken anti-Semitic slurs on July 28, 2006.
Gibson’s most powerful words ever came after three months after the slurs. The words I am referring to are of his repentance.
Gibson’s story is similar to another story of an almost-perfect priest and a corrupt tax collector. A moment came when they were both talking to God at the same time. The almost-perfect priest was bragging about his perfect obedience to the rules. The corrupt tax collector was embarrassed to even raise his eyes to God because of the shame of his mistakes. He was sorry and he wanted to change. God forgave the tax collector. God did not handle the prideful priest the same way.
Gibson’s repentance was public and ignored. He gave a brutally honest interview to Diane Sawyer in October 2006 about the drunken night. If you have not watched the interview in its entirety, you cannot adequately evaluate his apology. It is available on YouTube in three parts.
Gibson admitted to the impairment of alcohol. Admitted to the mistake of giving into irrational fear. He admitted resentment at the false accusations of intentionally making an anti-Semitic movie.
Of his drunken comments Gibson said to Sawyer, “People every day say things they don’t mean. And things they don’t feel. They may feel them temporarily. I mean we’re … we’re all broken,” he said.
Gibson was admitting the unforgiveness still in his heart. He turned the problem on himself instead of blaming those who had never apologized for the false accusations.
Gibson’s apology reminded me of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Pausch explained that proper apologies have three parts “1) What I did was wrong. 2) I’m sorry that I hurt you. 3) How do I make it better? and that most apologies leave out number three.”
Gibson did all three without being asked to. 1) He blatantly and explicitly admitted his sins. 2) He recognized the hurt he had created in others. 3) He sought out Jewish leaders to find a way to make amends for the damage he had done.
Although it would be nice if we were perfect, we are not. But we can repent and become better people. After watching Gibson’s interview with Sawyer I was convinced he was a better person. He admitted the previous public months had been painful. Towards the end of the interview Sawyer reminded Gibson of some wise words on pain, “Pain is the precursor to change.” Gibson asked, “Who said that, Socrates?” It was Gibson who had said that to Sawyer in a previous interview.
It is easy to ostracize others, but if we give others the same forgiveness we give ourselves, then the “easy” part shifts. The easy part shifts to love.
Question: Have you forgiven Gibson the way you forgive yourself? Are there others in your life who deserve forgiveness?