Last weekend the kids let me choose the ‘family film night’ movie. When I pressed play on The Truman Show there was a lot of whingeing. Why weren’t we watching Happy Gilmore!? (Again)
I thought they were old enough to watch this classic… and there’s only so much Adam Sandler a girl can stomach.
Well; within ten minutes they were absolutely glued and the philosophical questions they fired at me at the end really got us all thinking… especially Jonah; who hasn’t wanted to go for a poo ever since just in case he’s being live-streamed to the world.
Dylan was really perturbed by the idea we might not be in control of our own future. “It’s like; they just told him enough times that this is his life… and he just accepted it Mam. I’m glad he woke up in the end.”
The film seems particularly pertinent today. Surely I’m not the only one feeling like we might all be being puppeteered by some omnipotent force. That there are truths we will never know about what is really going on. Maybe our children’s children will discover them one day and be shocked by how easily manipulated their grandparents were. How willingly we gave away our freedoms, leaving them with a society unrecognisable to the one they hoped for.
It kind of got me thinking about the things we can control in this strange new normal.
It’s easy to categorise people as either the crazy hazmat- suit-wearing hysterics, or the Covid-denying selfish brigade. We forget that there’s this huge sliding scale between the two and we don’t have to choose a camp.
Personal choice on how we treat people is still not banned. Keeping our humanity is within our control.
I remember very early on in the pandemic two things happened which stayed with me and I regret them both.
Firstly a man had a fall in the co-op dropping his shopping. I was desperate to physically help him but it was in that strange time when people walked into the road to avoid crossing you on the pavement (never fully understood that one!), so it just didn’t seem a viable option. I knelt down and could see he was in agony. He told me he’d not long had his knees replaced. Nobody else stopped to help him and I didn’t dare touch his shopping in case he didn’t want me to.
Not long afterwards I was behind an old lady at a cash machine who couldn’t see to use the screen and was becoming increasingly upset. Again, I didn’t dare stand next to her and help her work things out. I tried to direct her from two metres away but it didn’t work. She walked away and I wondered how she’d be able to get the things she needed.
Both of those times I felt so ashamed. This was not the person I wanted to be. My own personal judgement from then on has been that humanity and kindness have to come before anything else. To the man in the co-op; I wish I’d put my hand out to help you up. I’m sorry. To the lady at the cash machine; I should’ve taken your card and done it for you. I’m sorry.
As I tucked Dylan into bed after the film finished he said to me, “I think basically Mam, that film was just saying, like, you’ve got to keep asking questions and doing things a bit different if something doesn’t feel right don’t you? It’s the only way life gets better.”
And for the 100th time that day I realised my 9 year old was far wiser than me.