Posts tagged ‘revenge’

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

For a change of pace, I want to write about the movie Three Billboards starring Francis McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell among others as the cast was a mile deep. My daughter Serena had seen the opening in London and gone to the cast party afterwards and met Ms. McDormand who told her to call her Fran. So I knew I was going to like it.

This is a movie you can’t put away. I saw it Thursday and I am still thinking about it. You all remember Ms. McDormand from Fargo if nothing else. In this one she plays a steely eyed woman bent on getting revenge for her daughters rape and murder by goading the police by erecting three billboards to remind them that nothing has happened. I won’t give you much more of the plot than that, because you have to experience it yourself. There are so many twist and turns, but the one constant is violence, anger, and hate on a certain level. If you think this is going to be a revenge flick, think again.

The first thing you think of as you get into it is police brutality and racism. There is a level of ignorance, and ignorant meanness. But instead of making you want to get even (although you will in parts), it makes you want to stop and think about what is going on and most importantly, does the anger, hatred, and violence just beget more anger, hatred, and violence? In today’s world does that not really ring close to home.?

Woody Harrelson, is absolutely stunning in the part he plays. I think the one thing you can say for his character is that he has accepted the reality around him and he makes accommodations. He really is connected to his reality and seems to embrace it. When you get right down to it, but you don’t think about it at the time, Sheriff Willoughby is probably more grounded in life than all the rest around him. Deputy Dixon is a son of a bitch and yet in the end, you may find him redeemable. It is a wonderful performance by Sam Rockwell. Throughout Francis McDormand as Mildred is tough as nails, but in the end, well, you will see. There are academy award performances from all of them but forgetting the awards, I got lost in their characters which is the highest compliment I can give an actor.

In the end you are left to work out the ending yourself. As a red blooded American, I like tidy endings with all things tied up. But it wasn’t and now I think I understand that that was the point. Hello reality, there are not tidy endings in life. Things are messy and some things are never going to get resolved. Are you going to go around angry begetting anger or are you going to accept the reality around you, and maybe forgive. There may be more return on your investment in that latter path than any other. I think that is what the movie was about, but like all good art, I am still thinking about it. You ought to also.

Thinking about the Power of Forgiveness

“Gov. Nikki R. Haley, a Republican, was one of many officials to label the shootings a hate crime, and called for the death penalty in the case.”  So what does that get us? A brutul murder followed by a revenge killing?  How are we better off as a society when it would appear that the crime and the solution involve killing someone?  As an aside, Governor Haley sees this as the act of one man and there is no connection to all the hate speech that Republicans spew out at President Obama, or the easy access to guns.  Let’s just off the guy and the problem is solved.

Then along comes a truly moving moment: “You took something very precious away from me,” said Nadine Collier, daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, her voice rising in anguish. “I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”

Right there is the understanding and grace that could teach all of us about life and how to live it.  Certainly he is a murderer and he must be taken out of society, probably forever.  But the state getting revenge for the victim’s survivors gets us nowhere but to reinforce the idea that killing is a solution.  And these brave people taught us something else.  That carrying around your hate and desire for revenge, your anger, just makes you an angry sad person.  And it doesn’t bring them back.  Reaching out will at least maybe heal your hurt and allow you to move forward living life with hope.  Forgiveness releases us.

Isn’t it ironic that the people “taking over our country” maybe ought to be the ones that get control to teach us how to live in a more kind and understanding country?  

A Victim’s Foolish Hate and Bile

Heading for the train station this morning on my way to an A’s Game in Oakland, I listened to the daughter of the victim of the convicted murderer who was put to death slowly in Arizona. She claimed that you should have no sympathy for him because the pain and suffering she suffered seeing her father murdered was far worse. Understandable and dead wrong.

For a start, the Founders were clear about cruel and unusual punishment and that certainly was cruel and unusual. But casting that aside, we have to step back here a minute and think. If we believe that a person deserves the death penalty for what society considers a wanton act of murder, and then we kill him in the same manner he killed someone, wantonly, then do we not deserve the death penalty? Do we not lower ourselves to his level of morality and in fact delegitimize our claimed right to take his life?

I feel sorry for the daughter. She wants to strike out. But revenge, pain and suffering don’t make it better, and in the end, her dad is still dead and killing someone in a cruel and unusual way debases all of us. Carrying that hate around just weighs us down and turns us into a bitter person. And yes, I do know something about this having lost a daughter to a drunk driver.

The death penalty in the United States is really an abomination even when it is carried out in what appears to be a painless way. We know this simply because the number of death row inmates who have been exonerated through DNA evidence and the unfair system that goes after people of color and the poor.

Sure, there are people who I think should get the death penalty. But the system just doesn’t work, and I can’t help thinking that life without parole may be a fate worse than death.

And finally, conservatives, who are most likely to support the death penalty, are also Christians who believe in forgiveness and redemption. Life is precious. Taking a life is horrific in most cases, and redemption, even inside the walls of a prison should be what incarceration is about, not revenge and hate. Life without parole for these types of crimes would work fine for me.