Saturday, May 4, 2013
An Alternative Reflection on Reese Witherspoon
Reese, Reese, Reese.
So have you ever wished to get rich? I know those sweepstakes forms keep claiming my name is in the running, but I’m beginning to think they are just feeding me a line. Ya think? By now I can’t imagine you haven’t seen the news about Reese Witherspoon, and her arrest, and their whole
fiasco. They are playing the video of the arrest
now. Her comments were first that he couldn't arrest her, she was an American citizen….which, of course, the officer
was as well, serving a city filled with American citizens. And then she went out into the whole, do you
know my name sequence….because, after all, if he knew it was REESE WITHERSPOON
he was arresting, he surely wouldn't do that.
And then, she went on the news and made a public apology….more or
less. If you don’t mind reading one more
story, I’d like to throw in a few comments for your consideration. Atlanta
First, let me say that we should give credit to Reese, because at least she had the integrity and courage to make the apology, and to stand up for the officers after the fact. A LOT of people in her shoes would do neither one, so let’s appreciate that she did so. Although she fell into a trap that I think far too many people make when she made her apology. In her statement, she indicated they had one glass of wine too many (really? Sure it was only one?). And then she said that as her husband was arrested, she panicked and didn't even know what she was saying. Really? Do you see the trap, the fault? It is one that is very common in our culture…in fact, in any culture it would seem. “It’s kind of like the old, “It was that WOMAN you gave me who made me eat the forbidden fruit!” “It was that snake who tricked me into eating that forbidden fruit!” Funny, the snake in that story is the only one who didn't pass the buck. So Reese tells us it wasn't her fault, she had one too many glasses of wine, and she was in a panic, therefore, she isn't really responsible for any of it. As a person who has lost friends to drunk drivers and known spouses battered by a drunk husband or wife (yes, or wife!), I would point out that the odds are very good that nobody held the glass to Reese’s lips and forced her to drink it. She IS responsible, she made the choice that led to the subsequent choices, whether she was not thinking clearly or not, her choices are what got her there. And if she did get in such a panic and lost control for a bit, instead of writing off with a claim to not even know what she was saying, how about saying something more like, “I let my emotions get the best of me and lost control. The things I said were very inappropriate and I apologize for having said any of them.” No excuses. No passing of the blame. Just a simple statement. At the same time, as far as public apologies go, hers was actually one of the better ones, I thought, so I’m not going to knock her for that.
But there did surface in the video something I do think is worth noting, especially if you are one who keeps sending in those sweepstakes forms or buying those lottery tickets. What surfaced was not merely a Reese Witherspoon issue, but one that is extremely common if you pay close attention to the world around you, and one that is extremely sad. It was in her discussion with the officer in her outrage, as she asked if he knew who she was, as if the fact that she is a wealthy, famous or beautiful actress somehow made her better than any other person the officer might arrest, or would exclude her from being subject to the same laws. It is THAT attitude that I think is dangerously prevalent in our culture, but also in many cultures around the world. We see it in
nauseum. We hear it almost every time a Washington Hollywood red carpet is rolled out. This, I believe, is one of a multitude of
issues that Paul writes about in 1 Timothy 6:9:
“But those who desire to be
rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful
desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (ESV) The temptation to think oneself superior to
another. (Remember, it was CAIN who
asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”) The
temptation to think one is not subject to the same laws as others. The temptation to think one can buy their way
out of difficult situations (a number of those come to mind!). The temptation to expect others to treat you
as special or important. The temptation
to pride. Or, which I don’t hear in the
Witherspoon case, the temptation to do anything and everything to get that
wealth, power or fame, regardless of who it hurts or what moral lines must be
crossed (and which of us can’t put names into that one?).
I do appreciate that old saying about the ground being level at the cross…..there is no rank, no privilege, no wealth and no power that makes one of us have any higher standing before God than another. Grace is administered to each of us the same way, through the mediation of the cross and the willingness to confess our sins as we turn to God for forgiveness. God isn't any more impressed with Warren Buffet’s or Bill Gate’s billions than with the quarter in the pocket of the
homeless man. God isn't any more
impressed that Bush or Clinton spent 8 years living in the White House than he
is with the suffering widow who spent 8 years in a nursing home. If anything, it is US who ought to be the
ones being IMPRESSED with GOD’S riches, prestige, power and glory. New York
The catch? Well, the catch is, it isn't only the wealthy, famous, powerful or privileged who suffer from the dangers of pride. It resides among even among the most poverty stricken homes. It’s just that the opportunities for the temptations to arise are far more abundant for people in those other positions. We do them no favor treating them as if they are special; in fact, we may be helping create the problems they have. I hope Reese has learned a good lesson, she seems to be a pretty decent person, but I don’t really know. I know there are many in her shoes who haven’t learned a thing, and go from one bad incident to another in a never ending downward spiral. Maybe the attempt to apologize is more reflective of the kind of person she is. If I were cynical, I’d say she just didn't want to lose her career and fans. But I am hopeful. Just next time, Reese, accept the responsibility when you apologize. That would be a good example to set for your colleagues among the rich, famous and powerful. And it would be a good example for each of US to set in our own homes as well, don’t you think?
TL:dr Reese Witherspoon’s arrest and apology reveal the dangers of fame and fortune, and the tendancy to pass the buck.