We were simply looking for a movie to watch on Netflix and Mudbound had rave reviews. Watch it. But fair warning: It is difficult to watch. It is difficult to watch because the storytellers do a masterful job of portraying the sort of lives that were difficult to live. The movie is a disturbing, compelling, haunting, yet beautiful work of art.
Mudbound features the intertwined stories of two rural Mississippi families, one black and one white, when one member from each family returned home following World War II. I will spare you the full movie review (especially preserving the memorable ending) and just state that systemic poverty, racism, and PTSD are terrible things and that all sorts of people—the beautiful, the complicated, and the perverse—are all mixed up in it.
I learned that the movie came from a novel of the same name by Hillary Jordan, and since we all know that books are better than their movies, I can only imagine how good it must be. The novel reportedly contains the line, “Death may be inevitable, but love is not. Love, you have to choose.”
This seems particularly important to consider on this special holiday that remembers Dr. King. On this day and every day, like Dr. King, may we choose love. “Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Posted in Original Essays, Stories
Tagged hate, hillary jordan, love, mississippi, mlk, mudbound, netflix, poverty, ptsd, racism, world war ii
Christmas added several items to my sports movie collection, and the first new flick into the DVD player was The Hurricane, a 1999 movie featuring Denzel Washington as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer and convict whose triple murder conviction was set aside after decades in prison due to the love and dedication of others. It was Rocky meets Shawshank Redemption meets To Kill a Mockingbird, which is quite the inspirational combination.
The most memorable scene occurs just prior to Carter’s exoneration when he and his young friend, Lesra, have a brief conversation through prison bars. Carter utters the most famous line in the movie: “Hate put me in prison; love’s gonna bust me out.” His young friend brazenly-yet-facetiously responds, “Just in case love doesn’t; I’m gonna bust you out of here.” Carter erupts in laughter, and then, tenderly, reaches through the prison bars to wipe tears from his young friend’s face, and says, softly, “You already have.”
This entire blog is predicated on the idea that humanity can be liberated from any circumstance that aims to imprison us—that in our hearts, we can rise above anything. I believe that in the depths of my soul. Argue with me all you want.
But even those who buy the premise may want to argue with me on how we rise above our circumstances, but as we square off, know that my contention is that it is love that busts us out.
Hate imprisons. Love liberates.
• Click HERE to see Bob Dylan in 1975 singing his protest song, “The Hurricane,” while Carter sat in prison (and remained there for another decade).
Posted in Movies, Original Essays, Songs, Uncategorized
Tagged bob dylan, boxing, christmas, denzel washington, freedom, hate, justice, liberation, love, prison, ruben carter, sports movies, the hurricane
Graham Greene’s classic novel, The Power and the Glory, is set in an historical period when Christianity was outlawed in Mexico, and the main character, an alcoholic priest, lands in an inhuman, overcrowded jail as a result of his addiction. It is there, surrounded by hopelessness, that the priest reveals his identity only to be ridiculed by a fellow inmate for being a bad priest.
He couldn’t see her in the darkness, but there were plenty of faces he could remember from the old days which fitted the voice. When you visualized a man or woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity… that was a quality God’s image carried with it… when you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate. Hate was just a failure of imagination.
That line: Hate was just a failure of imagination.
I would like to aim higher in life, and if I could be so bold, to learn even to love, but maybe the prerequisite is first to learn not to hate. And today, in our (politically and otherwise) polarized society, conquering hate would be refreshing progress.
I am convinced that the inner child in each of us recalls how to imagine. If true, then the crucial step is to notice hate, demonization, and condescension as these harmful sensations seek to harden into the dismissal of another as less than human and choose to replace the hate with a sincere desire to understand. For any progress to occur, we must understand one another, especially those we have a predisposition to despise.
I imagine this is possible.