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Plain and Simple for May 2, 2013
SoVaNow.com / April 30, 2013I don’t know if you are watching the new show on the Sundance channel, Rectify, but I find it interesting. It involves a young man who has been in prison, on death row, for two decades. He has now been released on a technicality and is facing the prejudices of his home town where many people still think that he is guilty.
Part of the attraction of the show is the fact that he must totally relearn the world. It has changed mightily in the years since he went away. As I age, I think of twenty years as a relatively short time, but think about all the changes that have taken place in that short time span. So much of what we take for granted now, especially in electronics, was not even around two decades ago or it was in its infancy. It is staggering to think that we sent a man to the moon with computers that were less powerful that what we have in our smartphones.
I read some years ago that someone who lived in the Middle Ages could have been plopped down in rural America in the early years of the 20th century and made sense of the world. It would have stretched their imagination, sure, but it was still an agricultural world and the tools were not so tremendously different. Even modern inventions had not invaded rural America to a great extent. But if you took an American from the early 20th century and plopped him or her down in 21st century American, the culture shock would be overwhelming. Even the character in Rectify is having great difficulty coping after two decades.
But what the character in Rectify does find to hold true is the conduct of the human beings he deals with. Some are evil while some are good. This has held true for all the centuries humankind has been on earth. One phrase that he says in the series is, “It is the good that hurts more than the bad.” He has become accustomed to the worst that humans can throw at him; now he has difficulty dealing with beautiful things and beautiful human beings.
I believe that sometimes we can allow evil to push us into that same kind of paradox. We see how bad people and this world can be and we shrink from trusting anyone or anything again. When we do see something beautiful, it almost hurts to look at it. We are terrified that evil will ruin it again. So we do ridiculous and harmful things to preserve that beauty—and, in the process, ruin it and become evil ourselves. When we look at Boston and other terrorist activities, we cannot become just like the terrorists in an attempt to protect beauty. If we do, we ruin the beauty in the process.
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