Friday, November 24, 2006

Michael Richards: Anger and Forgiveness

“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”--Buddha

As you have probably seen and heard from TV or YouTube, Michael Richards of Kramer fame in "Seinfeld," had a massive anger meltdown last week at a Los Angeles comedy club. He threw an ugly, racist rant about blacks, using the N word with great frequency. It was a disturbing display of anger and racism.

See Richard's Rant:



But then something interesting happened. Richards apologized. Abjectly. With sincerity. With hurt. With confusion. He appeared on "The Late Show With David Letterman" and said he was sorry. He was obviously not scripted. It was a rambling, wrenching, and very human apology by a man who knew he was wrong, had "personal work to do," and realized that his words were harmful, not to just those at the club who heard them, but in the larger American society as well.

See Richards on "Letterman":



Some have said they thought the apology was not sincere, was a stunt, and was "Krameresque." See: Michael Richards' racist rant: Career-killer or career-reviver? and Michael Richards' apology: Accepted? (Entertainment Weekly); Richards Tries to Explain His Rant at Comedy Club and Bewildered-Sounding Man and Bewildering Words (New York Times); and Kramer Ban (Jason Folkerts). I don't pretend to know what is in another person's heart. But what I saw appeared to be sincere and a plea for forgiveness.

I can't tell anyone to forgive. That is up to the person offended to accept the apology. And sometimes that takes time. But the Buddha said, “To understand everything is to forgive everything.”

I hope anyone who was offended will eventually forgive Michael Richards. Perhaps this incident will put Richards on the path of enlightenment. For the rest of us, it is an opportunity to walk a little further down the path of forgiveness.

1 comment:

Will said...

Bend your mind a little further and ask yourself what he needs to be forgiven for in the first place? For being a flawed human being? We're all flawed human beings. The difference with Kramer is that he exposed his flaws publicly.

I'm not excusing him. His flaws are particularly ugly, particularly repulsive. But we've all got them. Maybe not racist flaws, but flaws nonetheless.

So what are we forgiving him for? His honesty???

I think the enlightened reaction to Kramer's racist rant is to not even be angered in the first place.