I generally don’t follow the drama of Hollywood — who’s sleeping with (or partying with, or dissing, or hitting) whom. The self-absorption that permeates the celebrity culture is gross and I figure my time is much better spent on more lasting and productive things.
So I heard about Kanye West’s rude behavior at an awards show, but I didn’t really care. Besides, I agree with a fellow blogger that the whole thing was probably a publicity stunt. West’s appearance on Jay Leno’s new TV show just a day later seemed especially well timed.
However, in a brief interview with West, Leno asked a question that I don’t believe West expected. He asked West what his deceased mother would have said about the incident. The question left the rapper speechless and the studio silent for an uncomfortable amount of time.
It’s a great question that a lot of people should ask themselves before impulsively expressing the first things that cross their minds. Serena Williams should have asked it before she cursed a line judge at the U.S. Open. Congressman Joe Wilson should have asked it before he called President Obama a liar. Cable TV talk show hosts and guests should ask it before they say the stupid things they’re prone to say that inflame political discussions and further polarize Americans.
Just because we have the freedom to express ourselves doesn’t necessarily mean we should always freely express ourselves. Among the things that separates us humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is the ability to reason, to think at a much higher level. Unfortunately, it seems many people lately give in to their basal instincts and spew out the first thoughts that cross their minds. This does nothing to enhance our communications or to make our points more valid. In fact, such unchecked impulses lead to further strife and dilute our messages. What we have to say might be valid, but the validity gets lost in a medium gone haywire.
It’s interesting that West, Williams and Wilson each apologized for their outbursts. They still believe in what they were trying to express, but they acknowledged that the ways they expressed those beliefs caused more harm than good.
More of us could apply the Mama Test before we attempt to communicate. We’d probably find that our messages are more readily heard.