Jane Fonda Everyman

“It’s never too late – never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.” – Jane Fonda

In July of 1972, in the midst of the Vietnam War, Jane Fonda visited Hanoi in North Vietnam. It was a propaganda coup for the North Vietnamese, who even got photos and video of Ms. Fonda sitting atop anti-aircraft guns used to shoot down American planes. The trip earned her the name “Hanoi Jane” and the enduring hatred of many American servicemen across the country.

It seems that Jane Fonda’s past activism (treason?) is still costing her. Apparently home shopping network QVC has cancelled an appearance planned to support her new book, and a number of book signings have been protested (story here).

The article notes that Jane has had enough of the invective over actions from nearly 40 years ago. She goes so far as to say “I have never done anything to hurt my country or the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for us.” Hmmm.

OK, we’ll cast aside our own judgments on her past actions for just a moment and turn to her quotes about the issue:

“I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft gun, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless” – Jane Fonda (the source of the quote is a bit unclear. Some sites list it as from 2000, but others claim it is from a Barbara Walters interview in 1988.)

Or how about this one: “I will go to my grave regretting that. The image of Jane Fonda, ‘Barbarella,’ Henry Fonda’s daughter, just a woman sitting on an enemy anti-aircraft gun was a betrayal. It was like I was thumbing my nose at the military and at the country that gave me privilege.” (Jane, I like the dramatic tone, but get more than one lead-in; “I’ll go to my grave regretting” is getting tired.)

So, according to Jane, these things did, in fact, “hurt her country and the men and women how have fought and continue to fight for us.”

So, what can we do with this? We recall the words of Jesus from Luke 18: 10-14:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Eventually, every one of us must deal with the horror of our own sins, our own failures, our own shortcomings. We must come to grips with the extensive and lasting damage that our callous and selfish actions have caused to others – our friends, neighbors, brothers, sisters, spouses, children, parents … all created in God’s image. When we find ourselves in that place, we can react only a few ways.

We can deny that we have any wrongdoing – but this is an obvious lie to the most casual observer. Everybody messes up, after all.

We can justify ourselves (as the Pharisee did) on the basis of “I’m better than that other guy over there.” This too is useless before God, but it does have a measure of logic to it – at least as far as we are able to understand sin (while ignoring the sin of pride) in our own feeble minds.

We can confess. “I’m guilty as charged, regardless of what others have done, regardless of  how much I wanted to do better, regardless of all the extenuating circumstances – I AM GUILTY.” This, it turns out, carries great weight with the Almighty.

Honesty really does go a long way.

As for Jane Fonda, she has fallen into some measure of delusion. Her comments appear to be “I’ve already apologized [sort of] and you people won’t let me live my famous life in peace – so I’ll just deny that there was ever a problem [even though there obviously was, as I have said in the past] and throw my hands up in disgust.”

As for me, I don’t harbor any ill will toward Ms. Fonda. I believe in forgiveness and, more-to-the-point, I wasn’t even alive for any of this. It’s in the past. I won’t be buying her book, mind you. But this has nothing to do with a protest – I just don’t care to read much of anything Jane Fonda has to say, especially not a book about “life cycles” and growing old. I don’t have to worry about that for at least … uh oh.

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