Santo Passarello: Hug the cactus in yourself and others

Director Mel Gibson, center, is seen on the set of “Hacksaw Ridge.” The movie marks Gibson’s return to the director’s chair after a 10-year absence. PHOTO: CNS/Lionsgate

Mel Gibson is a famous Australian actor and director.

His career notably began when he was cast as Mad Max in 1979. However, his public indiscretions and outbursts have been well-documented.

These led to a crisis in his both his career and personal life. Many wondered if he would ever work again. In 2011, at the 25th Annual Cinema Award Ceremony, he presented an award to actor Robert Downey Jr at Downey’s request.

In his acceptance speech, Downey made a stirring plea:

I asked Mel to present this award for a reason. When I couldn’t get sober, he told me not to give up hope and encouraged me to find my faith. It didn’t have to be his or anyone else’s as long as it was rooted in forgiveness. And I couldn’t get hired, so he cast me in the lead of a movie actually developed for him. He kept a roof over my head and food on the table. All he asked in return was that someday I help the next guy in some small way. At the time, he didn’t imagine the next guy would be him. I would ask you to join me, unless you are completely without sin, in forgiving my friend his trespasses and offering him the same clean slate you gave me.

What a wonderful example of brotherhood! Both men displayed great courage in difficult circumstances and most importantly demonstrated the power of forgiveness. It is easy to condemn and vilify others. It is much harder to forgive and allow people to redeem themselves.

Hugging the cactus:

I was certainly humbled by this example. I sometimes wonder how each of us will be judged. Will we be depicted as people who have contributed to the creation of a better world? Will we be regarded as having inspired others by our attitudes and values?

Please continue to be kind to one another,

Santo Passarello
Principal, Patrician Brothers’ College Blacktown

This originally appeared in the newsletter of Patrician Brothers’ College, Bankstown.