Monday, August 22, 2011

The Help

I flew back to Kansas City this past weekend to celebrate my family's August birthdays, most importantly my mom and sister's birthdays. Fulfilling a promise we'd made after reading the book, my mom and I went to see The Help last Friday, my dad graciously tagging along. The film is one I'd highly recommend to anyone who has a heart not made from stone. I found The Help to be equally emotional and thought provoking. Here is one thought I had while sitting in the theater:

I'm amazed and devastated by human kind's willingness to submit one another to such degradation. Racism is a terrible thing and I'm fascinated that we would treat one another in such a fashion. Yet I noticed while watching the film my tendency to be disgusted by "them" - Southerners and other racists. It's very easy to observe such filthy treatment from afar, pointing my finger at other people without examining my own life with an equally critical eye. And if that is what I do, get angry at the South or angry at racists in general, while leaving myself out of the picture, I miss the entire lesson of the film. The lesson is, I think, that we are by nature selfish people, quick to treat others as means to an end. In so doing we embody the opposite of love, racism being one such manifestation. Using a biblical analogy, I'll miss this lesson in the film if I focus my attention solely on the "speck" of racism (though clearly racism is exponentially more than just some small speck) and forget about the "plank" in my own life.

I believe I have a healthy appreciation for people of all races. I'm not racist, at least as far as I can tell. But I'm missing the point of The Help if I think that only racists are "on the hook". In the end, The Help challenged me to critically examine how I treat others, with love or with selfishness. I want to continue to grow into a person who makes fewer selfish choices and more sacrificially loving choices. I'm not there yet, but I want to be.

- Joel

1 comment:

starnes family said...

I think The Help is a book everyone should read, a movie everyone should see and a lesson everyone should learn. It was fantastic, on so many levels.

I went to LSU, so I have a good dose of the south in me. The "real" south, which is Louisiana and east in my opinion. There are so many fantastic qualities in that area. I wish more people knew them. Yes, racism existed then and still does. But, it's everywhere, sadly.