By now, everyone probably knows Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars this year. Chris made a joke about Will Smith’s wife and Will reacted by walking onto the stage and slapping Chris with an open hand. Will was condemned and punished for the action.
I have seen and heard dozens of descriptions of the event. The interesting observation to me is— not one of those many, many observations referred to the incident as hand violence. The instrument of violence was his hand, but all of the discussion was about Will Smith’s decision-making.
I am probably more in favor of some gun controls than many of the readers of this blog. But I am also concerned that when a gun is involved in violence the description is foremost about gun violence and not enough about decision-making. Typically, I read or hear language used that blames guns and not the individuals. We are hesitant to acknowledge the foremost problem is a human problem.
I believe we may need some gun controls and some gun controls may reduce deaths. But a more important need is to have more respect for life, for property and for the rule of law. If we had those, everyone could have guns and we would not have violence except through accidental discharges.
Last weekend a rally was held in Mobile. The event was held by and for victims of violent crime. The plea was to stop gun violence. I believe we need calls to end all violence.
How do we do that? I find my answers in my faith. Others may have different ways to teach more respect for life, property and the rule of law. By whatever method, we need to change the human conditions causing violence. Putting the stress on guns shifts attention away from the primary sources of the problem.
Shaquille O’Neal made some very insightful comments about his relationship with Karl Malone. Both men were great NBA basketball players.
In his book “Shaq Talks Back,” he wrote how he did not like Karl at first. He felt Karl was “selling out.” Shaq did not believe riding a Harley wearing jeans and boots was the right way for a “brother” to behave.
To Shaq’s credit, he realized that his views were the problem. After the two played together on the Olympic team, Shaq realized Karl was a good family man and was being true to his roots. Shaq realized he was a city person and Karl was country. In Shaq’s word’s “Country brothers like to wear jeans; they farm and they hunt and they fish.” Shaq had the city interests of fancy clothes and jewelry.
Shaq had an excellent insight into the problem. He said— “Something we do every day is judging without getting to know the person.” He realized he made this error about Karl.
The first observation of interest to me is— I appreciate both men: Karl for being true to himself and Shaq for accepting responsibility that his prejudice was the problem. The second observation is Shaq did not dislike Karl because of racism. Shaq came to realize his distaste was cultural prejudice and prejudice is a human trait in everyone. The third observation is the way the prejudice was overcome was by getting to know each other.
Good lessons for all of us.
My favorite Karl Malone story was not about basketball but rather his response after Hurricane Katrina. An acquaintance living in Mississippi shared the incident. Although New Orleans got major national publicity after the Katrina, the hurricane’s strongest force hammered Mississippi. Towns and neighborhoods suffered extensive damage and in many situations the homes had to be leveled.
Karl came to Mississippi from his home in Louisiana. At his own expense, he brought heavy equipment and went into neighborhoods to help people. He asked homeowners what they needed, then had his men and equipment meet the needs as best they could. He did it for free! No charges! Gratis!
Before long, city employees inquired if he had permits for the work. He did not. They told him he could not do the work without permits. Karl packed up and went back to Louisiana.
Good man! Bad bureaucracy! Sad story!