Wednesday, November 7, 2007

To know a soul

Several years ago, I watched a movie – I think it was Mel Gibson’s “Man Without a Face.”

The protagonist, at first with great reluctance, was mentoring a young boy. Then word of this fact broke in the community and it turns out that the man had been involved in a car wreck years before in which another young boy had been killed. The community suspected that the man had been molesting the boy before the accident.

This poignant line I remember: the young boy, upon hearing the gossip about the tragedy, asks the man: Did you do it (molest the boy)?

The man looks at him very hard and says something to the effect of, “You’ve known me for a while now. Decide for yourself.”

In other words, the young man is denied the easy satisfaction of a yes or no answer and is forced to make his evaluation of the protagonist solely on the basis of how well he knows the man’s soul.

That is not so easy to do. That is what makes that movie remarkable, to me. The boy must decide for himself, based on his gut and his experiences with his friend, and nothing more.

Today I was asked about a friend of mine – whether it was possible that they might have written some rude and thoughtless statements on a certain blog. Now, tis true that all of us can be rude and thoughtless at times. But I know the soul of this my friend and I told the inquirer that I was confident that my friend was not to blame.

Later, I received the equivalent of the “yes or no” answer as craved by the boy in the above movie. But what if my friend had said, “ECD, you know me. And that is the only answer that you are going to get.”


PixieDust said...

This is the essence of "knowing" someone, yes? Deciding with our hearts when black & white answers are not available.

I remember this movie, and loved the relationship that moved through it.

This is a very touching post...


eastcoastdweller said...

Thanks, Pixie Dust. So I did have the title right?

Chase March said...

Can we really ever know someone? I mean truly, to know their soul? I’m not sure.

People surprise me all the time, both in good ways and not so good ways. The sad truth is people are capable of anything. We can reach incredible heights and amazing lows. And sometimes, we don’t know how far we travel until we reach the destination.

eastcoastdweller said...

Well, Chase, it is true that some horrific crimes have been committed by people who seemed like pillars of the community, who kept their inner darkness carefully hidden.

So was Mel being unfair to the boy in the movie?

It's an interesting ethical question.