Empathy, Sympathy, and a Moment for Grace…Even For Alec Baldwin

 

Alec Baldwin is not a good man.

We can go through his long personal, political, and professional history and document all the ways in which Baldwin has acted in disgusting, horrible fashions. It would take about 50 seconds on Google to come up with enough information to write a 2,000-word piece on the subject.

But this moment is not about Alec Baldwin.

In a horrible incident in New Mexico, on the set of the movie “Rust”, Baldwin apparently fired a prop gun, and some kind of projectile of unknown type was ejected, with horrible consequences: Director of photography Halyna Hutchins, 42, was transported to the hospital via helicopter and pronounced dead by medical personnel at University of New Mexico Hospital, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.

Director Joel Souza, 48, was transported to Christus St. Vincent’s Regional Medical Center by ambulance for care. Details on his condition were not released.

The scope of the tragedy is hard to comprehend for the Hollywood community. Hutchins was a well-known cinematographer, and the grieving throughout the industry was seen all over social media. Souza is expected to make a full recovery, and is lucky not to have been more seriously injured.

Baldwin expressed his shock and sadness regarding the tragic events on social media. “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother, and deeply admired colleague of ours.”

As those closest involved with the incident deal with the repercussions of this tragedy, the public spectacle is one we are all familiar with. Those that despise Baldwin have often been almost gleeful at what has befallen him. Others are simply using the moment to point out the many times Baldwin has failed to show sympathy or empathy to those he dislikes, most famously former Vice President Dick Cheney. Baldwin famously ridiculed Cheney after the Vice President accidentally shot and wounded a friend on a hunting trip (the man survived with minor injuries).

None of this speaks well of civil society in America today. These are the moments that define what type of nation we want to have, and want to aspire to. Our nation remains engulfed in a divisive culture war, with all sides treating Americans they view as the enemy as a ‘foreign’ force that must be politically destroyed and excluded from public life.

Baldwin is clearly not a sympathetic character in this regard. Few have done more to worsen our civil discourse. He has had long-running feuds with numerous conservatives, and his despise for former Presidents Donald Trump and George W. Bush is public and well known.

This is however when the concept of empathy, sympathy, and grace become most important. When things are well, and people are content, it is far easier to express sympathy to those we not only dislike, but fail to understand. But in times like these, when we are polarized and divided, it becomes extremely difficult to rise above the rancor and anger.

I’ve written about the concepts of empathy and sympathy many times, and especially in regards to our failure to promote these concepts for the greater good of civility in American society. Here is an excerpt from 2018:

When someone tries to display sympathy for another person’s hardships and anguish, it is simply an acknowledgment that we understand what that person is going through, and we simply hope for their quick recovery. In traditional society, the quickest and most common way to demonstrate that heartfelt belief was to send prayers to those that were suffering. Sharing sympathetic thoughts is one significant way in which we experience a greater sense of shared similarities together, and allows for a more profound personal engagement than one would generally have with people under normal situations.

Empathy, on the other hand, is the ability to put one’s self into the shoes of another, and to truly understand their point of view. It allows us to come to terms with how others came to make the decision they chose to make, without allowing our own biases to cloud that judgment. So the uniqueness of empathy is that, unlike sympathy, it allows for people to join together and at least attempt to have a shared experience. First and foremost, it involves seeing someone else’s situation from their perspective, and second, sharing their emotions, including their distress.

Most of us cannot truly understand the grief that Halyna Hutchins’ family is going through, nor can we comprehend that devastation and despair that Alec Baldwin is feeling. But we can attempt to be empathetic in trying to understand the devastation caused by this tragic incident.

Baldwin may not be a generous or open-hearted person to those he politically disagrees with, but he is a human with human emotions. And this is a moment in which our common humanity should rise above the anger, rhetoric, and divisiveness that Baldwin, and many of us, have contributed to over the years.

And this is why the concept of grace is so critical to a civil society. Grace, ultimately, is the generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved understanding of one to another. It is a concept unencumbered by the concept of just deserts, which demands we take ‘an eye for an eye’ as a just punishment for prior injustices.

Grace requires that our sympathetic, empathetic and graceful nature rise above the bad behavior of others. Baldwin probably is undeserving of our empathy. He failed to be graceful when his enemies were in a similar position. But grace requires us to elevate our spirit above and beyond what we would expect of others. Grace requires us to do what we believe is right, even if those we bestow that gift on would not do the same for us.

This is a sacrifice for many of us. It is easy to be mean-spirited and spiteful to those that have behaved that way toward us. Ultimately, however, such a society only damages us all. The true spirit of a truly peaceful and accepting society is one where we forgive, and try to rise above the anger and rancor. And only by acting in this manner can we hope to become a more civil society.

Published in Culture
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 193 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    Agree; thank you for this.

    • #1
  2. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Yes.  I have no love for Baldwin, but I also have no love for piling on (e.g., digging up old tweets)  in a moment like this.

    • #2
  3. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Grace is for People.  We’ve been treated to his grace, and I’m not above returning the favor.

    I hope he goes to prison for manslaughter.

     

    • #3
  4. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Pradheep Shanker: The true spirit of a truly peaceful and accepting society is one where we forgive, and try to rise above the anger and rancor. And only by acting in this manner can we hope to become a more civil society.

    All the way to the camps.

    • #4
  5. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Now will you write at similar length about someone who deserves it our thought and consideration? Halyna Hutchins, maybe.

    You can tell what’s important to people without much effort sometimes.

    • #5
  6. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Now will you write at similar length about someone who deserves it our thought and consideration? Halyna Hutchins, maybe.

    You can tell what’s important to people without much effort sometimes.

    I know nothing about this member, so I’m not commenting on him.  He sounds like a nice person.  And I agree with your critique of misplaced focus.

    • #6
  7. Pradheep Shanker Reagan
    Pradheep Shanker
    @Pradheep Shanker

    BDB (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Now will you write at similar length about someone who deserves it our thought and consideration? Halyna Hutchins, maybe.

    You can tell what’s important to people without much effort sometimes.

    I know nothing about this member, so I’m not commenting on him. He sounds like a nice person. And I agree with your critique of misplaced focus.

    Obviously our prayers should be with her family. 

    • #7
  8. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    BDB (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Now will you write at similar length about someone who deserves it our thought and consideration? Halyna Hutchins, maybe.

    You can tell what’s important to people without much effort sometimes.

    I know nothing about this member, so I’m not commenting on him. He sounds like a nice person. And I agree with your critique of misplaced focus.

    It’s the automatic go-to impulse, and it’s weak past respectability. Someone disreputable does something awful, and like clockwork – “Ok, now, remember to love thy neighbor!” It’s not the fact that hate is spiritually corrosive, it’s the automatic preference that Abdul Alec is given, and not his victim.

    The assumption that love for the evil is somehow better than love for the deserving, well – I call it evil.

    • #8
  9. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Seriously, Pradheep. Everyone would be as improved by a meditation on Halyna, and then you’d balance the scales.

    • #9
  10. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    From what I can tell from his public persona, I tend to doubt that Alec Baldwin is a person who would be careful around a firearm, and I surely believe he could have been fooling around and aimed at the victim as a “joke”. So I have to be disabused of that notion before I can find any compassion for him.

    • #10
  11. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    From what I can tell from his public persona, I tend to doubt that Alec Baldwin is a person who would be careful around a firearm, and I surely believe he could have been fooling around and aimed at the victim as a “joke”. So I have to be disabused of that notion before I can find any compassion for him.

    That does seem possible.  On an action movie involving guns, you’d think the guns would have live ammo for certain scenes where damage is supposed to result from firing at a car or something.

    • #11
  12. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    From what I can tell from his public persona, I tend to doubt that Alec Baldwin is a person who would be careful around a firearm, and I surely believe he could have been fooling around and aimed at the victim as a “joke”. So I have to be disabused of that notion before I can find any compassion for him.

    But even so he would presumably have thought it was a harmless prop gun. 

    • #12
  13. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    I wonder why they went to separate hospitals.

    • #13
  14. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I’m with John Hinderaker on this tragic incident:

    * That this was a life-ruining disaster for Alec Baldwin, much as the death of George Floyd was a life-ruining disaster for Derek Chauvin, goes without saying. (One obvious difference is that Chauvin likely didn’t kill George Floyd at all, since Floyd had two to three times a lethal overdose of fentanyl in his system, while Baldwin’s bullet unquestionably killed Halyna Hutchins.) But the incident does put some things into perspective. In this photo of Baldwin, talking on the phone after the accident, you can see that he has been wearing a mask and apparently has taken it off to talk on the phone:

    It’s nice to know he was keeping everyone safe.

    I won’t pile on either, not knowing all the facts. However, this is a test of our “justice” system. Will the law apply equally to Alec Baldwin (he should be convicted of manslaughter) as it was (mis)applied to Derek Chauvin? We shall see.

    • #14
  15. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    From what I can tell from his public persona, I tend to doubt that Alec Baldwin is a person who would be careful around a firearm, and I surely believe he could have been fooling around and aimed at the victim as a “joke”. So I have to be disabused of that notion before I can find any compassion for him.

    That does seem possible. On an action movie involving guns, you’d think the guns would have live ammo for certain scenes where damage is supposed to result from firing at a car or something.

    Nope.  Blanks in the gun, squibs behind the concrete.

    • #15
  16. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Does anyone remember when a tall, Swedish-looking young actor, starring in his own spy (I think) TV show some decades ago, finished a shot and collapsed on the set’s bed and took a .44 loaded with blanks and pretended to shoot himself in the temple?  The wad penetrated and killed him.  I hate to say it, but everyone who handles guns should know not to play with them.  That includes play-actors.

    • #16
  17. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    I agree with Jack Posobiec who posted this on twitter;

    @JackPosobiec: Every gun owner I know is saying Alec Baldwin is responsible bc you are responsible for every firearm that is in your hand

    2A supporters have respect for firearms and with that comes responsibility

     

    • #17
  18. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    kylez (View Comment):
    But even so he would presumably have thought it was a harmless prop gun. 

    It was a firearm used as a prop that was supposed to shoot blanks.  Whatever kind of round was in the chamber would eject something upon firing…blanks eject a wad of paper or plastic through the barrel.  The cardinal rule for any firearm is never point it at someone or something you are not willing to destroy.   No firearm is harmless.

    Andrew Branca has a good discussion of this case with what is known so far.

    • #18
  19. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Flicker: Does anyone remember when a tall, Swedish-looking young actor, starring in his own spy (I think) TV show some decades ago…

    Jon-Erik Hexum. And the show was Cover Up with co-star Jennifer O’Neill (CBS 1984-85, 20th Century Fox Productions). 

    • #19
  20. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Barfly (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Now will you write at similar length about someone who deserves it our thought and consideration? Halyna Hutchins, maybe.

    You can tell what’s important to people without much effort sometimes.

    I know nothing about this member, so I’m not commenting on him. He sounds like a nice person. And I agree with your critique of misplaced focus.

    It’s the automatic go-to impulse, and it’s weak past respectability. Someone disreputable does something awful, and like clockwork – “Ok, now, remember to love thy neighbor!” It’s not the fact that hate is spiritually corrosive, it’s the automatic preference that Abdul Alec is given, and not his victim.

    The assumption that love for the evil is somehow better than love for the deserving, well – I call it evil.

    I have very little respect, and no liking for Baldwin, but from the news reports it seems that the fault for this accident lies with the prop man. Baldwin had no way of knowing that the supposed prop gun was actually loaded with a bullet or whatever. It was not his fault, and his expressions of remorse seem genuine and heartfelt. 

    • #20
  21. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    kylez (View Comment):

    I wonder why they went to separate hospitals.

    Hutchins was the more seriously injured, and the Albuquerque hospital is the larger and better equipped for trauma cases.

    • #21
  22. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    “Hi. I’m Jimmy Carter. I’m a Bible thumping, NRA Member, Right-wing extremist, and Alec Baldwin has shot more people than My guns.”

    • #22
  23. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):
    […] it seems that the fault for this accident lies with the prop man. Baldwin had no way of knowing that the supposed prop gun was actually loaded with a bullet or whatever. It was not his fault […]

    Wrong.  Sorry man, but just plain wrong.

    The 4 universal rules of gun safety are:

    – Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
    – Never let the muzzle point at anything that you are not willing to destroy.
    – Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot.
    – Be sure of your target and what is behind it.

    Sounds like Worfress Arec Barrwin broke all four.  Manslaughter 1.

    • #23
  24. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    BDB: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot.

    I like the Marine Corps version: “Keep your booger picker off the bang switch!”

    • #24
  25. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    I am sure that Baldwin is in a version of Hell right now, and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.  I have no doubt that there was no intent behind this criminal negligence.  But that’s what it is.

    Days ago he tweeted that he hoped the “insurrectionists” are sent to prison in Angola or some other “hellhole” country.

    Well now his garbage needs some haulin’

    • #25
  26. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    This is a LOT more complicated than politics and grace. One, Baldwin was the MAN on this production. He is the producer.

    Two, there were THREE prior misfires on the set prior to yesterday. His union crew walked out over safety and accommodations that morning and he brought in a scab crew. The cinematographer that lost her life sent an email to her guild over safety concerns. 

    • #26
  27. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Agree, definitely.  I felt pity, sympathy, sadness for Baldwin immediately when I read the story this morning, and I never liked him.  I wish they had more details on what fired out of the gun.  I’m assuming it was definitely not a bullet.  Still one has to have even more sympathy and pity for the deceased, Ms. Hutchins.  Lord grant her eternal rest in peace, and strength for the family and all involved.  Very tragic.

    • #27
  28. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    EJHill (View Comment):

    This is a LOT more complicated than politics and grace. One, Baldwin was the MAN on this production. He is the producer.

    Two, there were THREE prior misfires on the set prior to yesterday. His union crew walked out over safety and accommodations that morning and he brought in a scab crew. The cinematographer that lost her life sent an email to her guild over safety concerns.

    Wow.  Maybe he can yell at an eleven year-old and feel better.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I’m with John Hinderaker on this tragic incident:

    * That this was a life-ruining disaster for Alec Baldwin, much as the death of George Floyd was a life-ruining disaster for Derek Chauvin, goes without saying. (One obvious difference is that Chauvin likely didn’t kill George Floyd at all, since Floyd had two to three times a lethal overdose of fentanyl in his system, while Baldwin’s bullet unquestionably killed Halyna Hutchins.) But the incident does put some things into perspective. In this photo of Baldwin, talking on the phone after the accident, you can see that he has been wearing a mask and apparently has taken it off to talk on the phone:

    It’s nice to know he was keeping everyone safe.

    I won’t pile on either, not knowing all the facts. However, this is a test of our “justice” system. Will the law apply equally to Alec Baldwin (he should be convicted of manslaughter) as it was (mis)applied to Derek Chauvin? We shall see.

    One difference, Chauvin was acting “under color of authority” or whatever they call it now.

    • #29
  30. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):
    …it seems that the fault for this accident lies with the prop man. Baldwin had no way of knowing that the supposed prop gun was actually loaded with a bullet or whatever.

    I think there is some shaping of the narrative going on.  Stories in the media describing the gun as a “prop gun,” the movie as “low budget”…the shooting as accidental.

    An accident in legal terms means you could not have possibly foreseen the outcome.  You point a gun at someone, you can foresee the outcome.  Even a nerf gun…countless mothers have warned their kids they could put an eye out with that thing.  If Alec Baldwin had not pointed the gun at the victim, she would still be alive.

    • #30