A fundamentalist approach of ardently structuring one’s life by following the letter of the holy book of any religion produces people that are fragmented at deep levels of their humanity. Folks like that wear their religion as a man wears his headache. Their character is opposite of wholesome. Various fragments of their character are rigid, and are poorly fitted together, always angrily creaking, always ready to give way at the fault lines. (This visual gives a new meaning to the word “character faults”, doesn’t it?)
A life lived like that is always do, do, do, in a never-ending quest to become. While that zeal and commitment can be admirable, the very system is deeply flawed. Its moral compass always points away from self and onto others. People living that life always build walls, draw lines, arbitrarily decide who is in and who is out, leave many wounded any dying in their wake, they scoff at laughter and joy, scorn childlikeness, trample over destinies, and ultimately sacrifice their soul on the altar of being right. As Blaise Pascal once said, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
A couple of weeks ago, I watched an old classic “Scent of a Woman”, starring Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell. It’s about a blind man, retired Lt. Colonel Frank Slade, who is not only physically blind, but is also blind to a lot of things in life. He spends a weekend with his young guide Charlie Simms, a young college kid. Although his physical blindness remained, that experience amazingly completely changed the surly Colonel’s outlook on life, and he began to see things in life he previously couldn’t.
This movie is one of the most masterful and powerful artistic illustrations of the ability to change people’s life through the power of personal presence.
The way we grow up and mature as humans is by forming judgments about the world. We observe the world around us, but we are not merely neutral observers. Depending on whether certain experiences are perceived as pleasurable or traumatic, harmful or beneficial, we assign different emotional values to an array of events and experiences. Also, depending on our upbringing, we adopt large portions of the worldview of our family – parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc.
“Good Will Hunting” is amazing movie in all regards. Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon, is an troubled young man with a photographic memory and an IQ off the charts. He couldn’t get in on a good education, so he was working as a janitor. No one was really interested in him, except for a few of his buddies. He was basically a nobody from everyone’s perspective, just another kid who always got himself into trouble.
Almost accidentally, his amazing intellect gets discovered. Suddenly, any people wanted to get on the same train with Will. Dr. Lambeau, an ambitious math professor who wanted to make a name for himself by exploiting the young man’s math prowess. An government organization that wanted Will to crack enemy code. Suddenly, everyone wanted Will for what he could do for them. And yet, no one wanted him for who he was. Except for his new girlfriend, and his new shrink, Sean Maguire, played by the magnificent Robin Williams. Sean saw Will for who he was – a wounded, guilt-ridden young man who was hiding behind a facade of sarcasm and authority-flouting. He saw a good Will Hunting in that boy.