As I reflected on the Will Smith and Chris Rock incident, I solicited the thoughts and opinions of a few of my countrymen. Here are some of the thoughts that I am left with from the conversation oh you never open slap another man either punch him or backhand him. Incidentally, my father was infamous for backhand slaps. I digressed. The idea of slapping another man was presented as a very disrespectful action. The conversation shifted to what the response would have been. There would have been a national fight at the Oscars unlike the Rumble in Manilla.
The problem with many conversations with regards to the Chris Rock and Will Smith quagmire is this, only a few dared to address the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue, as I understand it, is mental health. Many of us, as Jamaicans, believe strength is displayed in the ability to tough things out. In several situations, there is room for applications here. However, in the incident before us, this is not the case.
A Failed Attempt
Countless Jamaican males fail miserably with taking care of their physical health succumbing to the top two leading silent killers of prostate cancer and hypertension among Black men. These run rampant within our community because many of us fail to address our physical health. Let’s ponder this idea, if we as a culture have failed at addressing our physical health how much less will we give credence to the issue of our mental wellness or mental health?
A Cold Stare, and a Hot Head
The secondary conversation of a wife’s cold and calculated stare has become the principal conversation. This has shifted the narrative from what should be the conversation of record, which is mental wellness. One may not see this as the overarching conversation and concern, but it is. This is not a debate. It is a careful analysis of what has transpired. What would lead a man to act extremely out of character? In looking at this question, we are required to examine what we would have done. This then is beyond Will and Chris. It is about us—it is about me.
Therefore, introspection is the order of the day. Let us beyond the small mind mentality of discussing people to engage the discourses of ideas. The idea is found in a question Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to get well?” (see John 5). The question still stands for us today. Do you or I want to get well? Getting well is the priority. Wholistic wellness begins with mental wellness. Consistent guided introspection will defuse a cold stare and reduce the temperature of a hothead.
In his pseudo protective mode Will impulsively walked on stage and carried out the puzzling act. Who or what was he protecting? Might I suggest, it may have been his bruised ego? Then in an epic failed fumble recovery, he began to equate the slap to the protection and recovery of his wife’s honor. This, I believe, was disingenuous. There is nothing more emasculating than a woman’s dead cold stare demanding action. What was his state of mind? We will never know. We cannot understand the mind and the impulses of another human person. We can barely understand our own. Therefore, all of us must then engage in the work of dealing with ourselves in unearthing our deep-rooted fears, insecurities, and hurts. When we rectify the issues, then we can protect and defend our wives, mothers, sisters, nieces, and all the women in our lives. The protection will not be a knee-jerk reaction but rather, a thorough and thoughtful exercise of our responsibility of defending and protecting.
Is it possible we have dubbed a culture of violence? What is the compulsion leading to said violence? A man may slap another for disrespecting his woman vis-à-vis defending her honor. Here is the question begging to be answered, who will protect our Jamaican sisters from us. When we violate our essential duty to defend and protect. Domestic violence is rampant. Therefore, we cannot begin to discuss the Will and Chris drama because this lands in the realm of small-mindedness—the discussion of people. The pendulum has rightly shifted this conversation. What insecurities or maladaptive behavioral patterns exist within us to propel us to disregard women as creatures made in the image of God to inflict hard upon them? This kind of buffoonery ought to be exposed so that women can experience the security of our protection.
No Longer at Zero
This intercourse ought to be had. We cannot defend the honor of our women while defiling them simultaneously. In Mathematics, a negative plus a positive leaves us at zero. How do we get from zero? There is grave difficulty in advancing this conversation to effectuate change. For many Jamaican men, this multi-layered conversation requires deep thought—introspection about our mental wellness because dealing with mental illness is an arduous undertaking. For far too long—our mental illness has been white-washed with falsehoods, folly, foolishness, and faux bravados. It is time to remove the old-cracked paint of falsehoods by sandblasting the hidden surfaces of our lives to prime and paint a new picture of mental wholeness.
A Necessary Conversation
My fellow Jamaicans, we can speak at nauseum about sports—Premiere League, NBA, NFL, Track and Field, and World Cup, politics, or even our status in life but we refuse to talk about our mental state. Why is this? This demands introspection. These discourses are as weak as an old rusty zinc fence. Let’s sure up our defenses like Rockfort, by beginning with introspection guided by mental health professionals, our friends, and of course our pastors.
One may exclaim, that there is no immediate correlation between these discussions. I beg to differ. We have become extraordinary in avoiding real issues. Many quickly present the problem of the day in very generic third-person pronouns to deflect or hide our thoughts and emotions. When our emotions are not kept in check, we—the protectors of our families have made them our prey.
What then do we do? We do like what David did during the time of his distress (see 1 Samuel 30:1-8). David and his men wept bitterly, worshiped, and prayed for guidance. Therefore, before we act with unyielding fury, we must solicit guidance before we act and develop an appropriate plan of action to deal with what ails us. Before we act let us deal with our unresolved anger/aggression, use restraint, reverence God, and move only at the impulse of His word. In executing these, we can use an ounce of prevention rather than a pound of cure.
Will Smith and Chris Rock Photo – Deposit Photos