There have been moments in my life when I have entertained unkind thoughts. I have also said things in my life that I do not feel proud of. And I can remember times when I have acted in ways that contradicted my best intentions. I suppose each and every one of us can remember at least one time in our lives when our thoughts, words, and actions were not in alignment with our Highest Self, instances when we functioned from a place of fear and not from a place of love, moments when we knew at a very deep and certain level that we had stepped off the path of clarity.
However, fortunately for most of us, our mishaps, intentional or otherwise, were not instantaneously broadcast on national television, shared feverishly across thousands, if not millions, of internet websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter pages, or published in countless newspaper and magazine publications around the world simultaneously, as they have been in recent days for Paula Deen.
Ms. Deen is being sued by a former manager at her restaurants, Lisa T. Jackson, in Savannah, Georgia, for sexual and racial harassment. Jackson’s lawsuit alleges that Deen and her brother, Bubba Hier, committed numerous acts of violence, discrimination, and racism that resulted in the end of her five-year employment with Deen.
During a deposition in the legal proceedings, Paula Deen admitted to using racial epithets, such as the “N” word, tolerating racist jokes, and condoning pornography in the workplace, candid forthcomings that have landed her smack dab in the middle of a firestorm of sharp criticism and vilification from both the media and the public at large. Ms. Deen’s candor ultimately led to the swift decision by The Food Network to cancel her cooking show on their television station only one hour after she publicly offered her heartfelt apologies and begged for forgiveness from all those who have been affected by her choices and actions.
I would like to be clear that I am not here to judge what Paula Deen did, or did not do, as being good or bad, right or wrong, defensible or indefensible. What I am interested in having a conversation about is: What happens now? How do we, individually and collectively, show up now in relation to this event and this experience? Do we attempt to drain and deplete Paula Deen of every ounce of goodness and joy that she has given to our world as a trade-off for the moments in which she forgot who she was? Do we punish her? Do we support her? Do we forgive her?
Is forgiveness even necessary?
In the book The Only Thing That Matters, we are offered the invitation to consider a radical new way of thinking: Forgiveness Forgone, a concept which says that forgiveness is not necessary when it is replaced, rather, with the more powerful energy of Understanding. If this concept is held as true, then the question becomes: What are we being asked to understand here? Are we willing to see through the thick layers of distortion – anger, fear, judgment – to understand that anything Paula Deen has said or done is truly an expression of love? Do we need to see to it that Paula Deen “loses everything” in order for us to feel as though we are “made whole”? Is that how it all works in this game of life?
Perhaps the notoriety of situations like these offers us an opportunity to peer into our own personal relationships and notice where we are holding on to grudges or allowing tightly held resentment to dominate our choices. Is there anything in life that is unforgivable? Is there a “point of no return”?
Perhaps the woes and sorrows of another famous face are unimportant to us as we move through the day-to-day affairs of our own lives. As with everything in life, we all get to decide for ourselves what it means. But for me, I can’t help but notice the many way in which these types of defining moments continue to appear, calling me, beckoning me, and inviting me to once again choose, declare, and ultimately experience who I really am.
Who will you choose to be?
(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)