I love movies. I love movies almost as much as I love music. Just like daily happenings remind me of songs, things that happen during the day remind me of movies. Last Sunday, I awoke and was inspired to write a story. At least I thought I was inspired. It might have been avoidance behavior; not wanting to attend to chores or do anything requiring physical exertion. I wrote my story, posted it in my blog, and like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” I awaited the accolades and recognition of its truth-promoting potential to pour in (A++++++++ on the virtual blackboard of blog comments). Like Ralphie believed his essay on the attributes of the Red Rider BB gun would shine the light of truth on the merit of his request for one for Christmas; I believed my short story would illuminate the value of truth over rhetoric and acceptance over intolerance. I thought my words would finally make clear that it is better to love than to hate.
I awaited the worldwide accolades that would surely come my way. I imagined the nightly news would feature a picture of Pope Francis (he really is a great guy who gets that it is better to love than to hate) as they read his statement, “Even an average middle-aged retiree in Albuquerque, New Mexico gets that love is better than hate. The truth is, hate tears down and love builds up. Come on people. Read the story. Different isn’t bad. It’s what allows us to see all sides of an issue and solve real problems. We just have to truthfully examine all sides of the problem.” My imagination, like Ralphie’s, tends to overemphasize my influence (and my writing talent).
Another one of my favorite movies is “The Invention of Lying.” One of the gifts of retirement is more movie-watching time. This gift is increased by the stay-at-home-and-watch-movies mandate resulting from the pandemic (the gift that keeps on giving). In “The Invention of Lying,” the main character inadvertently tells a lie and avoids the consequences and accountability (at least at that moment) of the truth. He’s the first to tell a lie, and he immediately sees the potential. He can avoid hurting others, by replying to requests for his opinion with small lies when the truth would be hurtful. He can do things that are hurtful, and then lie when asked if he did so. The possibilities would be endless. Ricky Gervais, one of the writers, is pretty clever. After inventing lying, the character played by Gervais chooses not to lie, when a lie would harm a loved one. Even after inventing lies, he wasn’t going to use lies to hurt people. Wouldn’t it be great if that were the truth of lying now. Not using lies to hurt people has been written out of the screenplay of “Now.”
While working, I would often use many words to tell a co-worker to stop a behavior that I believed was negative or destructive. Apparently, I have brought this practice with me into retirement. I wrote a story intended to remind people that lies and hate are harmful. The truth is, people already know this. I like writing, so I write. What I write is not always great. The truth is, I don’t work hard enough at it for it to be great. I let words flow and hope for the best. I hope that we will not allow ourselves to be manipulated by lies and intolerance. I hope (my friend Shari is big into hope – she’s wonderful) that we can embrace differences and reject hate. Can’t we all just get along? Oh, by the way, do these pants make me look fat?