Consider reflecting before responding

As we ring in April, many are celebrating the beginning of the end – especially here on campus. The last few weeks of each academic year are a time of celebration, anxiety, relief and frustration. Seniors are preparing for what’s next, whether that be jobs, a gap year, grad school, or something entirely different. Underclassmen are considering internships, exploring summer jobs and awaiting a much-needed break. 

As a community, April gives us time to prepare for a new season. April also encourages us to reflect. 

In today’s world, there is no shortage of things to reflect on. COVID-19 is still prevalent, there is still a war in Ukraine, it’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and there is a new piece of oppressive legislation to discuss each week. 

Unfortunately, I have found that many pass over the reflection and move straight to the response. 

The now (already) infamous Will Smith-Chris Rock Oscars slap is the perfect example of this. Everyone was quick to respond. It seemed to me that we were all expected to take one of two sides: Either “he was defending his wife” or “he was completely out of line.” 

I’ll admit I didn’t watch the Oscars, and I didn’t even watch the replay of the slap. Instead, I watched people I know. I saw outrage on Facebook, justification on Instagram, arguments in real life and belittling in comment sections. In watching people react, I found myself feeling frustrated that there seemed to be a need to respond at all. 

In some instances, silence is betrayal. In others, it is appropriate. I would argue that the Will Smith scenario falls into the latter, especially for people who have no understanding of Will Smith’s lived experiences. 

While Will Smith caused the Academy to collectively clutch their pearls, I couldn’t help but wonder where their moral outrage was when they were honoring men like Harvey Weinstein. As a note, while Weinstein never made a scene on stage, he was found guilty of committing first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. The Academy never, even after these allegations came to light, revoked his Academy Awards. 

Yes, the Will Smith situation occurred on the Oscars stage. No one is surprised that they are outraged and they shouldn’t celebrate violence. However, I find it hypocritical that the organization cited their Standards of Conduct in a memo outlining their plans to conduct an official review of the incident. Does it only matter how awardees conduct themselves when the camera is on?

I don’t condone violence or bullying (even if it’s framed as a joke), but I do wish we as a society could learn to take a beat, pause and reflect before we respond. 

In the end, I think learning reflection skills would enable us to be more compassionate individuals, leading us to be better leaders, kinder humans and more prepared for the new opportunities that are around the corner.

I’ll close with the words of actor Danielle Radcliffe when asked about the Will Smith slap: “I’m just so already dramatically bored of hearing people’s opinions about it.”