Mel Gibson is known for many successful movie characters. Braveheart stands out among the best. He is also remembered for a 2006 drunk-driving arrest, anti-Semitic outbursts and movies packed with bloodshed and violence.
His production ‘The Passion of Christ’ rocked the movie world with graphic scenes and record-breaking success at the all-powerful box-office.
Now among Jews he is called ‘The New Oskar Schindler.’ So what is happening? In 2006 while driving his car, Gibson was stopped by police and charged with drunk driving. The arresting officer James Mee was a Jew and Gibson let fly. “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world? Are you a Jew?” Gibson hurled at the officer.
Over the years the Australian actor made very offensive anti-Semitic remarks and his reputation plummeted. But today in Israel he is cast in a totally different role. He has been called ‘a righteous gentile’, a stark change of character. Zane Buzby leads a group Survivor Mitzvah Project. (In Hebrew mitzvah means ‘good deed.’)
“Mel Gibson is helping Holocaust survivors in eight countries,” Buzby said. “He’s educated himself. He’s done philanthropic work and I think his actions speak very loudly.” Appropriately Zane Buzby appeared alongside George Burns in the movie ‘O God.’ She has devoted her life to philanthropy, specifically aiding Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe.
She launched Survivor Mitzvah Project but also founded SMP’s Holocaust Educational Archive, which offers thousands of letters from Holocaust survivors and hundreds of hours of videotape gathered from five countries in Europe. Under the title “Holocaust in the East” the videos offer original recordings of testimonies never before seen.
Mel Gibson, Buzby observed, has worked hard to regain his life. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous, donated millions to charities and most recently was welcomed back to Hollywood with a successful yet controversial movie Hacksaw Ridge.
In the Gibson mold the movie is the gutsy, R-rated story of World War II Seventh Day Adventist Army medic Desmond Doss. I read numerous US movie reviews, they were surprised by the honesty of the story telling.
Once so-called Christian movies were sugar and spice productions but Gibson changed that with The Passion where truth and reality were not watered down. Talking about Hacksaw Ridge one of the US movie reviewers said of the religious content it was ‘the straight-forward lessons from Sunday School.’
In his review Matthew Gault was full of admiration. “Hacksaw Ridge is based on Terry Benedict’s 2004 documentary “Conscientious Objector”. It tells the story of Doss — a Seventh-day Adventist who refused to carry a weapon yet went on to receive the Medal of Honor. In the span of 12 hours, he pulled 75 wounded American soldiers off a ridge in Okinawa, Japan,” Gault wrote. (warisboring.com) Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honour.
The spectacular turnaround in the life of Mel Gibson is inspirational. 'I have a great respect for people who turn their lives around, and I think that everyone makes mistakes in life, and I think the real proof of what kind of human being you are is what you do with that mistake,” Buzby said. She also added: 'His actions have helped a lot of people'.
The real-life testimony challenges all of us who often shirk or hide the calamities of life. Mel Gibson has such a profile his mistakes are quickly exposed whether he likes it or not. The great encouragement in his story is the Lord can still produce diamonds out of dust. Mel Gibson says he has 10 years of sobriety ‘under his belt.’ A Gibson confidante said he has shown remorse over his past behavior. “He has worked on his issues and has definitely shaped up,” they said.
In this uplifting testimony comes encouragement for many. In Hacksaw Ridge we watch Desmond Doss who was called ‘coward’ because he refused to carry a rifle or touch a gun. When the army captain inspects a tent full of injured and rescued soldiers, he asked how they got there, “who did this?” A soldier responds ‘The coward, sir!’ Bam! What impact in that moment? Doss was far from a coward and by his actions he won great honour and respect.
Desmond Doss had a difficult relationship with his father Tom, played by Hugo Weaving. Doss believed his father hated him, his mother and his brother. His mother knew that was not true. She knew the father despised himself and his outbursts came from his own internal turmoil. She knew people act out because they are a hurting. We all need that wisdom so that we can adapt and forgive. There are many who live with a burdened heart because this reality is ignored.
Amazing how that sad experience helped Desmond Doss choose his outlook on life and even war. He was aware of contentious relationships. He knew of fellowship frictions and the tragedy they bring. “With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to wanna put a little bit of it back together,” Doss said. Good advice!
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ron Ross' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html