Friday, March 2, 2012

"If freedom isn't about something bigger than freedom,

then freedom is just ... entertainment."

--Sean Penn, The Crossing Guard

I don't think I've ever thought about that before.

How could I have never thought about something
so important and obvious before?

I must have thought about it in other terms.

The quote above, from the film The Crossing Guard,
written by Sean Penn, was spoken by a man who had just
gotten out of prison, after six years, for killing
a child with his car. He was drunk. Not when he said
it, but when he was driving.

So he knew about freedom, or had thought a lot
about it. And now he had it, or had something like
it, that he hadn't had for six years.

But he was still imprisoned by his guilt, by the
memory of what he had done, the young life he had
taken. He was unforgiven, by himself, by the father
of the little girl he killed.

He wasn't saying he didn't have freedom. He was
saying what was he going to do with it, where was
he going to take it. What good was it, when in his
freedom he was incapable, or unwilling, to use his
freedom to choose to live.

Where and what was the thing that was "bigger" than
freedom that freedom was about?

The father of the girl he killed had said he was going
to return to kill the man, the ex-convict, in three days.

So he had 3 days to decide what it was that was bigger
than freedom that freedom was about, that would save
freedom from being ... entertainment.

3 days, after six years of prison.

I know that being sober is the freedom to choose, which
I didn't have when I was drinking, when I was slave to

Of course what I first think about is God, when I think
about what the thing is that is bigger than freedom, that
will save freedom from being entertainment, which is merely
the freedom to choose between most of the little things we choose
between and among every day and night--entertainment.

The man who killed the girl was drunk when he hit her
with his car. "I just felt a bump." Now he almost
welcomes the father coming to kill him. It will
be deliverance, true freedom, freedom from himself.

The little dying girl talks to the man who killed her.
"She was talking to me. She was apologizing to me.
She was apologizing for not having looked both ways."

I hate to tell you this. I hate to tell myself this.
It's not about God. It's about loving the other guy.
You can't love the other guy if you hate yourself. You
can't love the other guy, or yourself, if you're waiting
for them to change, for you to change. God doesn't wait.
God is not waiting. I'm the only one who's waiting.
You're the only one who's waiting. It's not going to
happen one little step at a time. Or it will happen,
one little step at a time, up to a point. And then
it requires the freedom to leap into that something
bigger than freedom. And it comes in a hundred forms
per day.

If I said it any plainer than that it would be taking
away your freedom, my freedom.

You're free to believe me or not.

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Philosophical Christian said...

I saw that movie, wasn't Jack Nickolson the one playing the father? You had some great thoughts, but I think freedom is a lot more than entertainment. It's the ability to be yourself instead of being a robot.

Richard Martin.... said...

Thanks, Phil. Yes, it was Jack.... Another film of Sean Penn's you might like is Indian Runner....I agree, freedom is the desire & ability to be myself. I think that involves letting others be themselves, too, and learning how to be myself by watching others be themselves, even if I might not "approve" of who they are. It's creative, dynamic, and also has something to do with who I'm "meant" to be. At that, I'm thinking of the chapter "Things in Their Identity" from Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation.