Saturday, April 28, 2007

You, Me, and Alec Baldwin

It's been all over the news this week. Updates on the Middle East? Nah, Alec Baldwin.

If you haven’t heard the hideous things he has said to his daughter, Ireland, don't bother Googling it. Take my word for it--it's not nice. Alec Baldwin is an actor who has been in a very long custody battle for his now eleven year old daughter. A tape was released to the media of Mr. Baldwin leaving his daughter a very unkind voicemail. Unkind doesn't even begin to describe it. More like inhumane and abusive. While, I'm blown away by what I heard, there are some things to be learned by this.

1. Own your words; you never know who's going to hear them. This actor had no IDEA that the entire world would hear his voicemail. Granted, what you and I say today probably won't be aired on the nightly news, but what if your parents heard you? What if your teacher overheard you? What if what you said got back to the target of your words? And believe me, you will not go your whole life without someone finding out what you said about them. If it hasn't happened yet, just wait for it. Run your words through God's filter--what if I had to repeat these words before my Father. Would he be disappointed in me?

2. If you're mad, cool off before you react or speak. Proverbs 14:17 says, A quick tempered man does foolish things... I'm a teacher, and I have said some pretty stupid things out of anger. My favorite moments are when I have this really powerful retort that I shouldn't even say in the first place and then it doesn't even come out of my mouth right. Proud, proud moments. We need to NOT react and to just wait until we calm down to respond. God totally knows what he's talking about in Proverbs.

3. Take responsibility for your actions. So you messed up and said something stupid--apologize, acknowledge your failure, and accept the consquences. After watching Mr. Baldwin's explanation from The View on YouTube today, I was disappointed that while he did apologize and admit fault, he spent the majority of the time explaining why he was the victim. Let me say this: People who are the constant victims are NOT on the top of anyone's invite list. So for the sake of your social lives and that next sleep-over invitation, don't give into woe-is-me. Be the girl who says, "I made a mistake, and I plan to learn from it."

4. Finally, I don't know all the circumstances of this situation. I know it's ugly and there are two sides. But I know this child was called on her phone, yelled at, cussed at, threatened, and insulted with words like "thoughtless pig." Mr. Baldwin called his actions "inappropriate." No, inappropriate is making armpit noises in class. Inappropriate is your little brother passing gas in a packed elevator. Girls, if you find yourself in a situation in which you are verbally abused, you need to tell someone. There is such a thing as emotional and verbal abuse, and it is serious. Even Hollywood adults do it! This is a hot button for me (obviously) because I see the effects of verbal abuse on children ALL the time. It can hurt and harm as much as a slap. And it's not okay. If you are unsure if lines are being crossed, then please seak out a school counselor, a teacher, or an adult you trust. Ireland Baldwin now has an entire country outraged and acting as her advocates. Most girls--not so lucky.

A total rant today, but as a speech teacher, I know words have power and words carry weight. There are adults walking around today carrying pain from words that go back decades. Shine with the light of Christ today and know that what comes out of your mouth tends to stick. And if you have a lot of verbal trash consistently glued to you, tell someone.