“Daddy what would you do if someone said something bad about mummy?”
My fourteen year old asked me this question last week, just as we all had just finished watching Will Smith hit the Oscar host Chris Rock when he joked about Will’s wife. All of us know about this incident now, after all the extensive media coverage.
My son’s question left me thinking, what would I do in such a situation? Certainly I think I would not react physically as Will did, but definitely I would let the person making that statement know that I did not appreciate it.
The larger question that bothered me as a dad was the reaction of Will himself, mouthing obscenities, totally out of control and out of character. I have seen so many portrayals of Will over the years as the ultimate family man – the complete father. So this was jarring – to say the least.
In his movie, the Pursuit of Happyness, this is what Will says, “Hey. Don’t ever let somebody tell you…You can’t do something. Not even me. All right?”
He says this to his son, who he is struggling to raise as a single father, while trying to find a job and a roof over their heads. What a powerful statement from a parent to a child, that children can achieve what their hearts are set on!
Again in his autobiography Will says, “Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.”
So, what happened, Will? Why did you let the words get to you and why did you get mad at that moment? Was it because you are like us – a frail human being with emotions that you struggle to control at times?
After the incident, Will in his acceptance speech for the Best Actor in his role in the movie King Richard, as the father of Venus and Serena Williams, went on to tearfully say, “Art imitates life: I look like the crazy father. Just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
Thinking about these words, did Will get carried away by the character that he played on screen?
After all, “Words are tools of imagery in motion” – Sam Shepherd.
Post this incident, Will was fortunate to have good friends like Denzel Washington tell him during the break (as Will mentioned in his acceptance speech), “At your highest moment, be careful – that’s when the devil comes for you.” These are wonderful words of wisdom from Denzel, who himself was a contender for the Best Actor award.
Denzel mentioned that he could not just sit back in his seat, but was inspired by the Lord to reach out to Will. What a wonderful example for us demonstrated by Denzel and also mentioned in the Scriptures: “Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on, sin no more.” (John 8:11)
As a father, I learnt from this situation, to be on my guard always. I need to protect my family always, yes – but in the right manner.
I must heed the advice of good friends, who stand by me and correct me when I fall as Denzel did for Will. They keep me from falling and pick me up, when I do.
I end with this quote, “Sometimes you have to forget what’s gone, appreciate what still remains and look forward to what’s coming next”.
By Tom Thomas Maliekel
Tom is an Indian entrepreneur with interests in technology, manufacturing, reading, scribbling, running, faith and family (not necessarily in that order) He was greatly inspired on his journey of fitness by the amazing transformation that the Snehagram Community – www.snehagram.org – has made in the lives of HIV infected youngsters, by shaping them up into some of the most outstanding amateur runners in India.
(Picture Courtesy: AP)