The past two weeks have been less than favorable for television chef and business woman Paula Deen. She has been brought to her knees for admitting that she used inappropriate words some 30 years ago when referring to African Americans. She has lost her contracts with various corporations and is being dubbed a racist. Having been a fan of Paula Deen for many years I have found myself feeling sad for her situation and in wonder at just how all of this happened. Depending on which interpretation you read in various news outlets but it appears that our country is divided on this issue. First let me say that the words that Paula has admitted to saying are not only inappropriate but unacceptable. I do not use that word or other words used to describe people that society would deem as “different” or “minority”. I believe that people are people no matter the color of their skin, their vocation, the size of their paycheck, house or car or who they love. You see, I am of the opinion that I am the only one responsible for my life and what I do with it; it cannot be up to anyone else to decide how I live, what I do or who I love.
As I watched Deen appear on the Today Show this past week my heart broke for her because no matter what she says I believe she has already been tried and convicted by the media and corporate America. For me personally, I applaud her for being open and honest enough to admit her shortcomings instead of choosing to lie under oath as some had suggested she should have done. She could have lied and said that she never used that hateful word and gone on with her life and all of its successes. Instead, however, she chose to tell the truth and face the consequences; which have been less than pleasant for her and her family. What does this say about society, or part of our society, that instead of extending forgiveness and mercy to those who do the right thing and admit their wrong doings, fess up if you will we try to ruin them and bring them to their knees personally and professionally? What about all of the good things Deen has done for others throughout the course of her life? It seems that none of that matters right now; a fact that I believe is beyond sad for all involved.
Should doing the right thing, admitting our faults and mistakes be the reason we deem someone a horrible person? If that’s the case, then I doubt anyone of us would be considered a good person. I believe that forgiveness, grace and mercy should be extended to Paula Deen for the things she did in the past. None of us are perfect; however, we have chosen to expect others to be. Looking back through history we have had presidents who have committed adultery and have remained in office and have moved on to prosper and be successful. And how many celebrities have behaved inappropriately yet we continue to pay to watch their movies and hold them in high regard. What makes Paula Deen so different than those who use that horrible word in rap music or when referring to their peers?
I wonder what our world would be like if forgiveness was practiced more and condemnation less? I wonder what our world would be like if everyone stopped trying to find a way to knock someone to their knees for something they said or did instead of trying to accept apologies and help that person learn from their shortcomings? Noted author Shannon Alder once wrote “Every person has a dark side. What defines a person with good character is not a spotless life of constant kindness, smiles and even temperament. But rather, it’s the yearning to learn from your mistakes, applying it, making amends for them and choosing not to repeat them that define good character. These are the friends to keep in your life because they have stared adversity in the face and became a better person because of it.”
Living with more heart and less hate I believe would help our world be a better place.
I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!