“Walmart dropped her!” “She’s not a ham spokesperson anymore!” “She wanted a plantation wedding!”
From under the deluge of Paula Deen news, what stands out most to me is the outcry from Deen supporters on social media outlets: “Let’s forgive her!” is their refrain.
What on earth is this “forgiveness” that people are callingfor?
“Forgiveness” is tricky. It asks us to decide where the individual’s action ends and the essence of the individual begins. Forgiveness challenges us to examine our relationship to behavior: how can you forgive someone’s actions and at the same time disagree with them?
If I forgive my cheating ex, does that mean we get back together? How do I forgive a rapist without accepting their actions? What does forgiveness look like?
Exhibit A: Caesar’s Palace forgives Paula as a person and does not support her actions. They published their statement:
“While we appreciate Paula’s sincere apologies…. after thoughtful consideration of their impact, we have mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties to part ways at this time.”
Exhibit B: One thousand-bajillion social media commenters call for a “forgiveness” that equals “acceptance through action.”
Deen supporters call for corporations to continue business with Deen. Their (generalized) response to Walmart dropping Deen’s line from stores: “Now I have a reason to boycott Walmart.”
Exhibit C: …..Why do people want to forgive Paula Deen, anyway?
I’m just curious. Sometimes, the biggest lessons I learn from my attempts at “forgiveness” are the answers to this question.
Are we afraid of Deen being wrong? Do we want to excuse in Deen what we see in ourselves? Where does this call for forgiveness come from? And what does it mean?
Is it forgetting the past?
Is it a simple, surface apology?
Is it maintaining the status quo?
How do you forgive someone and ask them to change at the same time?