Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Se7en and the Importance of Hope

I love the movie Se7en.

Yeah, it's old school, I know but I think that it has some fantastic insights accompanied by profound implications for living a full life.

There is an interesting scene in which Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman), who is a seasoned veteran, is sitting down for a beer with Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt).

They have hit a dead end in their case, and are essentially waiting for the serial killer they are tracking to take his next victim. Hopefully, they can glean some sort of lead off the next one. Their adversary is incredibly skilled and leaves no clues behind.

There is a tangible feeling of oppression at this point in the movie. The viewer can feel it. It seems that all that is bad in the world continues to thrive and flourish, while those attempting to do some sort of good are left exhausted and beaten down.

This thinking is revealed when Somerset laments about leaving the city:

William Somerset: I just don't think I can continue to live in a place that embraces and nurtures apathy as if it was virtue.

David Mills: You're no different. You're no better.

William Somerset: I didn't say I was different or better. I'm not. Hell, I sympathize; I sympathize completely. Apathy is the solution. I mean, it's easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It's easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It's easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: it takes effort and work.

Have you ever felt that way? Like you just want to give up?

I have. For sure. There have been days where I just want to say screw it, and just go live however the hell I want to. I feel as if there is just too much riding against me and that my place in the greater story won't make a difference. So why fight?

I can relate to Somerset.

Inspiration, it seems, often comes from the unlikeliest of sources, which is true in this case as well. Mills, who's character is easy to dismiss as the young yuppie, idealistic and naive delivers a line which is just brilliant.

He says:

"I don't think you're quitting because you believe these things you say. I don't. I think you want to believe them, because you're quitting. And you want me to agree with you, and you want me to say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're right. It's all fucked up. It's a fucking mess. We should all go live in a fucking log cabin." But I won't. I don't agree with you. I do not. I can't."

It was easy, up to this point, to think of Morgan Freeman's character as the realist, the one who's been through it all, and (if we are not careful) assume that he is the wiser for it.

Oddly enough, though, David Mills is right on. It is in this moment that a significant role-reversal takes place and Mills becomes the realist, whilst Somerset looks strangely naive.

However eloquently Mills may express himself, and despite his many character flaws in the movie (and trust me there are many), he is dead right.

Allow me to elaborate...

Humanity is meant to hope, to fight for what is good and true, to strive for change. It is in our nature, our DNA not to quit.

The story of human history is one of conflict, true, but time and time again history is shaped by those who refuse to quit, despite the immense odds which pile up against them.

An wizened old man in Asia defies the odds inspiring a mass movement, which gains a nation it's independence.

A King on a virtually defenseless island is pitted, not only against the Nazi war machine, but a deeply rooted speech impediment and a doubting nation. He elects to take the path of perseverance, rises to the occasion, and inspires a country to fight back.

An African American man decides to peacefully combat the violent injustice lurking within a supposedly 'free nation', and inspires an entire movement that seeks to view all humans as people, a movement of the "color" blind, if you will.

A Jewish carpenter insists that there is more to life, defies the religious and political establishment of the time, and ignites a movement which cares for the poor and the oppressed.

A movement that has radically changed this planet by challenging and breaking down social, political, economical tiers, and has emphasized the value of each and every single life that has ever walked this earth.

There is a reason these stories inspire and move us.

We have hope written within us.

It is a part of our story. The story which the human race is continually writing.

To betray this hope, to give oneself over to bitterness, futility and cynicism, in my opinion is to deny that which is fundamental to life. Maybe even to deny life itself.

Is this to say that one must turn a blind eye to the problems of the world, plaster a nauseatingly fake smile on their face, and wear rose colored glasses? Absolutely not.

Sadly there is much injustice in this world.

There is violence.

Racism.

Hatred.

Envy.

Suffering.

Things are not as they should be. We are a long way from home.

The danger of looking honestly at the world, in this case, is allowing the ills of the world to overshadow the truth.

There is hope. There has always been hope. There always will be hope.

For a better tomorrow.

For justice.

For reconciliation.

For forgiveness.

For trust.

We may experience hope in different ways. Maybe it's a friend who has come alongside us through a heartbreak. Someone who can't necessarily fix all the problems of life, but instead whispers with their presence 'you are going to make it', 'you're going to be ok', 'this isn't the end.'

It could be a couple that is on the road to divorce, yet with the support of their friends and family decide, instead, to work things out. To heal the wounds created over time, one day at a time. Hope is there.

Perhaps a child who is being bullied, simply because they are different, experiences hope as a peer steps in on their behalf.

We not only have hope written in us, but it is also up to us to write hope in the stories of others.

Some days I want so badly to quit. To leave this all behind.

But I won't.

I can't.

There is always hope, and hope is real.

3 comments:

Yup, that's me said...

Um, so you rock my face. If I had read this yesterday I probably would have punched you (good thing I didn't read it yesterday).

Just wanted to say, thanks for coming along side of me and bringing a little hope into my life :)

Josh said...

Thanks for the read and comment! I'm blessed to be able to do this life thing with ya friend! :) Have a fantastic day!

THAT girl who said...

I believe hope is one thing, denial is another, and that both are seperated by a very fine line. So denying something isn't entirely bad. "Hope is the denial of reality", and if it takes denying something to get somewhere, that's fine.

I loved your post. It was fantastic.