I am often in the minority when it comes to this type of thing. It seems that celebrities over whom much of society fauns are least on my list of favorites. I was never much of a Robin Williams fan. It’s tough to trust someone who, in interviews, never gives a straight answer. I was uncomfortable with the fact that I could never really tell who Robin Williams was as a person. His comedy seemed a bit too bizarre, too off-kilter for me (as I said, I realize I’m in the minority).
Having said that, Robin Williams starred in what is probably my favorite movie of all time: Dead Poets Society. Though it makes me cry every time I see it, I cry because it touches me and moves me to the core. It reminds me of the kind of teacher my father was: creative, against the grain, memorable. It ignites in me my creative spirit. It shows the importance of freedom for creativity and the value of a caring mentor. When he wanted to be, Robin Williams was a great actor.
There is no doubt that Robin Williams’ life “mattered.” Just witness the outpouring on Twitter, Facebook, Television, and all other media upon news of his death. His life and career had an impact on millions upon millions of people.
And now, maybe even more so.
I have lately been doing a great deal of contemplating over the phrase: “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” No doubt, Robin Williams was fighting his own battles as is evidenced in the news reports regarding his recent (and not so recent) life. People have treated me in ways that show they have no idea the battles I face, and I’m certain I have treated people in ways that show I have no idea the battles they face.
If Robin Williams’ death will remind us that we all face battles, maybe, at least for a time, we will all be a bit more kind. Perhaps we will put the best construction on everything. Maybe we’ll stop talking about people in unkind ways and stabbing them in the back. Perhaps we’ll listen harder, have more compassion, and get people the help they really need when they need it.
No, Robin Williams wasn’t my favorite comedian or actor. But his troubled life and untimely death are an important lesson for us all: “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”