Question: The Slap Felt Around the World

I needed a bit to sit with my thoughts. I was horrified Sunday night during the Oscars, watching actor Will Smith slap actor and comedian Chris Rock on national (international) television. The incident was disturbing to my spirit. It made me feel sick inside. I was even more disturbed, after the break, when I saw that Will Smith was allowed to remain in his seat and keep participating in the show. What? At the very least, he should have been removed from the premises.

Violent communication is a big problem in our society. I am fully aware that the work of comedians involves pushing things to their limits—but humor doesn’t give them, or anyone, the right to resort to violence.

I was wondering what’s involved in producing humor and who decides the line to approach but not cross. That equilibrium is more important than ever these days because our sensibilities are fragile. I hope social scientists, psychologists, and human behaviorists are working overtime to explain what our world is going through now. They need to speak up as they discover the patterns and roots of our current problems, and everyone else needs to listen.

Many of us feel like we are facing one traumatic event after another. As we digest what happened at the Oscars, yet another incident of violence, we struggle with the news of a senseless war in Ukraine, and ongoing tragedies continue to assault our senses. A record number of people (nearly 100 million) have left their homes fearing for their lives, bullying and suicide rates have reached all-time highs, huge populations in Africa face starvation, and our climate is crashing before our very eyes. It’s exhausting!

A friend told me her church decided to do a month of no talking in worship. They are sitting together in silence and leaving in peace. I wonder if that is what we all need. Everyone should be quiet.

What would the world sound like if humans shut up, if only for a little while? Could we hear the voice of the Lord? Would we better understand what is happening to our very existence? What would it feel like if we cut off all electronic communication? If only we were brave enough to do something to silence our pandemonium.

What about the church? Can we consider silence? My cousin, a minister in Chicago, was pondering the 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testaments. I said I suspect we are in another one of those times when God is silent and leaving us to our own devices to see where we turn. If I am right, how will God find us? How will God find you? Can we listen to the sounds of the world around us? Can we begin to hear God anew?