Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Everybody Needs a Friend"

What an audacious script. The Jodie Foster directed, Mel Gibson comeback flick, The Beaver, is a dazzling experience. The story adroitly spans, in equal measure, the comedic and crushingly devastating aspects of severe depression.

Whilst the Beaver and Mel go about seeking forgiveness from the world, a side story unfolds, culminating in a brave, albeit strange, philosophy.

Gibson's son in the film makes a heck of a high school living as a scam-artist. He's paid as the ultimate ghost essayist. The situation reaches a new height of grandeur when the hot, cheerleading valedictorian pays him off to write her graduation speech for him. Naturally, they fall in love. And just as naturally, their relationship hits some snags.

And so it is to culminate in a speech. What words did he write for her? What words will she add to his? How will all the king's horses and all the king's men put humpty-dumpty back together again? That's what we want, right? We want resolution. We want the pieces of the puzzle to come together. We want, as an audience... we want. And so she says...

I'm not okay. Not at all.
The truth is
I'm missing something...
So what do I do with that?
What do any of us do?

This is an inspiration; this worldview. Generally speaking, the films that dare to say the world is irreparably broken are the ones that, from the opening frame, immerse us in the ugly. My mind drifts to 8mm. After nearly two hours of seeking out this horrendous masked murderer, our loyal hero finally finds him. He pulls off the mask of the deranged pervert only to find the look of a common man. The killer gloats back:

What were you expecting? A monster?

What is intrinsically intriguing about The Beaver, is it never sets out to be a film about brokenness. We are expecting to be told that everything will all be alright. This is what we've come to expect from the cinema.

Here is truth: the world is dark, the world is broken. Most of the time I don't know what to do with that.

Sadly (for me), the graduation doesn't end at the question. The gallant cheerleader presses on:

This is what I believe:
Right now in this auditorium
there is someone who is with you
someone who is willing to pick you up
dust you off 
kiss you
forgive you
put up with you
wait for you
carry you
love you
so while everything might not always be okay,
one thing I know is true;
you do not have to be alone.

And then I get frustrated. Is this true, that everyone has somebody?


It can't be true.

Some people have lived cursed lives, beaten and horrifically mistreated by those who should have cared. Some people have alienated anyone who ever dared to share affection. Some people are just too darn shy to have friends.

Here's what I believe: 
Everything is not alright.
Everything is not going to work out.
But it is a great story, this life.
The best.

You see, grace is the end result of all this. It has to be. It's the only way this scorched Earth can hope for a happy ending. Grace. Grace. God's grace.

We can't, by our own will, fix the world. We're too dumb, too self-absorbed, and too rotten.

But I do believe that there is someone who is smart enough, wise enough, clean enough.

A good lookin' dude -- that Marko fella.
My good buddy, Marko Kotnik, came up with an idea. He calls it RewardHero. You can check out his website at The basic idea is to create a system in which people can easily return items back to the folks who lost them. It's something of a big lost and found, with an emphasis on the returner of said lost item being a hero.

What inspires me about is that it seems to be fundamentally about grace. Find a wallet -- return it. Sure, you'll be rewarded for your good deed, but that's not really the point. The point is to be a hero to someone you've never met. Show that person that grace exists. Show a kindness. Be more than what is expected of you. Be more than a man. Be a hero. And all it takes is to show some stranger a bit of grace.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
By grace this world will be saved. There's no other way. There's no other hope.

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