Lessons from SNL: Learn to forgive

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By Clara Koritz Hawkes

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Last week, I laughed hysterically with half of America when Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson joked about Lt. Com. Dan Crenshaw’s eyepatch during the episode’s Weekend Update segment. When my news feed filled with articles criticizing Davidson, I was defensive to say the least, thinking how ridiculous it was to make such drama of what was meant to be a joke.
Still, after seeing what seemed like the 50th critical article from news outlets, I realized that Davidson’s comment—though it made me laugh—was pretty problematic, especially so close to Veterans’ Day weekend.

But even then, I was still “team SNL.” I was expecting conservatives to lash out and denounce Davidson’s words in a way they never do to President Trump, who, all things considered, has made far more problematic comments himself.
Instead, I was completely surprised by Crenshaw’s reaction.

Crenshaw appeared last Saturday on Weekend Update, the same segment where Davidson made fun of him the week before. Although they made a few jokes about Davidson himself, including Crenshaw’s phone going off with a ringtone of one of Davidson’s ex-fiancé Ariana Grande’s songs, Crenshaw and Davidson also sent an impressive and respectable message to America: we should learn to forgive.

After his series of jokes, Crenshaw got serious. “Americans can forgive one another—we can remember what brings us together as a country and still see the good in each other,” he said.
Crenshaw also took the time to recognize the loss of Davidson’s father in 9/11. He showed his solidarity with Davidson with a handshake and the words “Never Forget,” which were then returned. It was a perfect example of how we might disagree with one another or make a mistake, but we can always move forward through common ground.

The steps that both Davidson and Crenshaw took are remarkable and something we don’t see often nowadays. It’s one thing for Davidson to sincerely apologize, but it was another for Crenshaw to come onto the segment—and write an op-ed in the Washington Post about the incident—and accept that apology, a step which should certainly be commended.

While the segment made me laugh, it also reminded me of what used to be normal when discussing politics: respect.

In the Trump era, civil discourse in politics has dwindled. Politicians on the national stage make personal attacks instead of focusing on policy, and this hostile environment extends to Whitman too.
At our largely liberal high school in an overwhelmingly blue state, it’s unusual to come across someone at school who holds conservative views. And when we do, many of us are quick to judge, often commenting on their “ignorance” without actually listening to their arguments.

I’m guilty of this too. For example, if someone says they’re pro-life, I might write them off as hateful and obtuse, instead of taking the time to hear them out. Many of my peers do the same.

While this attitude may be normalized, it’s nothing to strive for.
The kind of disrespect that we’ve become acclimated to only perpetuates political polarization and drives us further apart. It’s as petty as it is unproductive. Nothing will get done in a country where citizens don’t even try to find common ground.
Luckily, fixing this problem is simple. Start listening. Stop judging. Hear someone out before ridiculing and be understanding. Call people out when they mess up like Davidson did, but do it in a way that would make it bearable if you ever saw them in public.

Most importantly, remember that American citizens all call the same country home— and we should start acting more like it.
If the U.S. really wants to make progress, it’s time we took a page or two out of Crenshaw and Davidson’s books. Instead of reacting with anger and hate towards someone with a different opinion, we should learn to apologize, forgive and grow.

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