John Galliano: drugs, booze and ... forgiveness

This article touched a nerve. Yes, I know I read the Mail's web site too often, but I tried to buy the News of the World today for the first time but it's sold out ...

John Galliano's sense of entitlement made him lose touch with reality, says Milla Jovovich | Mail Online

I've blogged about Gallliano and his racists rants against Jews, and how angry they made me. But the truth is that I've had a lot of experience of friends and acquaintances behaving shockingly under the effects of drugs and alcohol. In fact, I've recently had a heated row with someone about that. Just as I didn't want to name the ranter even in a private conversation, I wish someone had taken Galliano in hand and checked him into rehab before he was named and shamed by the press.

Ms Jovovich might have behaved well under the influence, but it never ceases to amaze me how badly otherwise nice people will behave when drunk or using coke. One old friend, years back, took out his penis and tried to rub it against me in a nightclub in the south of France. Seriously. When sober he couldn't remember doing it, and once he eventually realised what he'd done - after a couple of similar incidents - he was mortified. And checked himself into rehab. Someone else I know would scream the foulest abuse ... and very few of them could remember having done so the next day because black-outs are a feature of addiction.

I could bore you with dozens of other such stories but ... I've been very open about having chosen to check myself into a few years ago for Post Traumatic Stress. Most of my fellow patients were there for addiction, and we did some group therapy together. Many fell off the wagon at some point since, but most have gotten back on it, even if it was again and again. The one thing that united them was how horrified they were by the things they had said and done whilst under the influence, and how much they regretted it once they had sobered up. Many of them were men who had fought for their country and were using drugs and anger to blot out their traumas.

I don't know John Galliano, and my only contact with him has been the contact between his dresses and my skin. I have always thought that he was an incredibly talented designer, and my first love, aged 14, was a bias cut gun-metal grey dress he designed ... That's my disclaimer. I do not think that we should make allowances for him because he is an extremely talented man or because he was working under a high pressure job.

I do however feel that we should try to forgive him and allow him to move on. And give him the benefit of the doubt that he is trying to change his life around. Hopefully the court in Paris will find some sort of compromise judgement where he can try to make amends.

Just as Christianity and Judaism share the basic tenet of 'treat others as you would wish them to treat you' so both religions share the concept of forgiveness.

"When asked by an offender for forgiveness, one should forgive with a sincere mind and a willing spirit. ... forgiveness is natural to the seed of Israel." (Hilchot Teshuva 2:10)

The Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks has produced a handy leaflet about the Jewish concept of forgiveness, available as a PDF here. And this Jew feels that we should forgive Galliano. Rather than gossiping about his actions, try to think about taking the time to help someone you know who may be suffering from addiction. Even if you just say no to drugs, not everyone around you does.

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