It’s been one news article after another. From the Independent, to David Olusoga, to Trevor Noah and Whoopi Goldberg, there’s been no stopping of the diversity of opinions following Liam Neeson’s recounting of feelings he had when a friend was brutally raped. I listened to the interview and I can understand the heated sentiments.
I share the same sentiments; however we’re missing an important aspect of this conversation. Like most black people, and people in general; wanting to hurt an innocent man, who could be someone’s husband, my son or someone’s brother on account of what somebody else did to your friend is not just cruel, it’s dark and heinous.
But here’s the bigger conversation. He admitted to these feelings as a way of highlighting the danger that can ensue if feelings of anger and pain are left unchecked. He cited an example of Northern Ireland to further illustrate this point. “I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing, and Northern Ireland’s proof of that. All this stuff that’s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that, you know”
By focusing the conversation on racism, we miss the bigger conversation; that as a society and people we need to check feelings of rage and pain so it does not lead to violence and destruction.
I don’t for one minute ignore the truth that those were dark feelings; but at some point in our lives, we’ve all had dark moments. Maybe not as extreme as wanting to take an innocent life on the basis of his colour, but at some point in our lives, we’ve had moments where our thoughts and sometimes actions did not speak true to who we are and our values.
This conversation would be very different if he was admitting to having this kind of thoughts and seeing nothing wrong with it. If that was the case, then he would deserve every vilification that came his way, however; he identified the error in his thinking “It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that”.
He chose to share a very private and vulnerable moment as a way to call attention to how our moments of pain and anger can lead to violence and hurt and further perpetuate the problem.
In the age of Black Lives Matter and political correctness, I can see why sentiments are high. Far from being taken in isolation as racism (and I’ll encourage you to read/watch the full conversation to get a complete perspective), choosing to share a vulnerable and dark experience from his past is courageous.