In a geography class I took last spring, I came to the conclusion that the history of nations is fundamentally the story of human depravity. In ever continent, region, country, the basic plot was of one group of people exploiting, hurting, or trying to destroy another. Perhaps it is odd to pull such philosophical ideas out of a geography class, but that's what it kept coming back to. Often however, we have a tendency to distance the history of nations from the history of persons. We assume that even though humanity in unison tends to take advantage and hurt, in the day to day lives of persons this not the case. Recently however, a few movies and TV shows I've seen have led me to wonder if the average person is just as hurting and broken as the nations warring against each other.
On the whole, we are masters of disguise. Walk down the street, go to the grocery store, visit with friends, and it looks like we have it all together. You hear about or see the occasional exception of course: the man on the street corner holding a cardboard sign, the teenager who tried to take her own life, even the middle school boy who bullies his classmates. We act as if these people are anomalies however, as if the normal function of human life and interaction is much more refined and sane. I wonder though, if inside, the majority of humans feel like those social outcasts. Are we just more adept at hiding or ignoring the problem? I was watching The Joy Luck Club last night. Fascinating movie, sad but good. It's the story of four mother-daughter pairs, Chinese-American families. In each case, some trauma or or history of the mother impacts her daughter, and the hurt and pain is passed through generations. It ends in reconciliation for all of them, but doesn't shy away from the pain and hurt that they all feel (and all cause each other). They are each successful, and to anyone on the street, they look nothing like the homeless man, suicidal teenager, or middle school bully. But fundamentally I'm unconvinced that they are any different.
I've also been watching the TV show Rescue Me with my husband. I can't say that I would recommend the show to anyone, but it is an interesting study in firefighter culture, and I've been exposed to enough of it myself, and vicariously in the last few months, that I feel it's a fairly accurate representation of the lifestyle. However, the episodes leave me feeling depressed. They're funny, and interesting, and engaging, but it keeps coming back to how broken and hurting these people are. The firefighters in particular are scarred and often traumatized because of all they have to deal with in their job, but this also spills over into their relationships. Their families too are hurting. The question I keep coming back to is, "Are we all this broken?". Do we all just do a pretty good job of hiding from our friends and neighbors that we fear and fight and weep inside?
I believe strongly in the basic sinfulness of man, and the fallenness of this world. It has merely been all the more strongly reinforced recently that our lives and relationships are perhaps even more broken than we let on.