A few days ago I watched a movie that really disturbed me. Angels Crest (2011) is the story of a young father who, through careless indiscretion, is responsible for the death of his three-year-old son. (If you want to watch Angels Crest, I suggest you stop reading this post now and come back after you’ve seen the movie. Otherwise, what you read here could spoil it for you.)
Yes, this man did a terrible thing. Because of his carelessness and selfishness, a young child died. Even so, watching this grieving father struggling with incessant pain and suffering is heartbreaking.
Every hour of every day, he lives with painful memories and self-torment. He cannot forgive himself for his wrongful actions. He hates his very life, he despises who he is, but he can’t escape the reality of his own being.
Then, in addition to all the shame and self-loathing he already experiences within, his friends, family, and community heap on him even more shame, hatefulness, and hurt. There is little to no compassion for this hurting father. In a sense, he is lying on the ground trembling, and those who pass by (if they don’t go far out their way to avoid him), give him a little kick to make sure he knows how disgusting he is.
But this is not enough. The District Attorney’s office brings charges against the young father for negligence and abuse. So now the crippled, injured man is expected to defend himself. How does this make any sense? The prosecutor’s actions do nothing to bring healing to the community or to anyone else. Vengeance (eye for eye and tooth for tooth) only perpetuates the cycle of punishment and pain. Instead of promoting healing, it impedes any chances for a return to wholeness for anyone involved.
What is the matter with us? What are we thinking? Are we thinking?
When the day comes for the young father to present his plea, he is absent from the courtroom. His chair is empty. The movie ends with him out in the countryside, in the snow, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Why not? What kind of life remains for him? Even if he could learn to forgive himself, he would never be forgiven by the community at large. Once the demonizing begins, it does not end. Once a monster, always a monster. There is no reconciliation. There is no healing. There is no peace.
© panthera2, 2012.
There just has to be a better way.