Writer Grant Nieporte and director Gabriele Muccino have stirred my hornets nest. We’ve been offered another wonderful tragedy in the package of excellent writing and art. The moral dilemma and the treatment of altruism is reminiscent of Gone Baby Gone.
Altruism is a universal theme. The popularity of this film is a testimony to this. Am I doing what is right or am I merely serving my own ego? Is there such a thing as a good deed or am I in fact putting others into my debt as a way to control, master, own, or use them to redeem myself? (Albert Camus)
Two important matters are addressed here:
1a) Are you a good person? (such as the conversation with Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), a blind meat salesman who plays the piano).
1b) Am I a good person? [such as the way in which Tim Thomas (Will Smith) wrestles with the guilt of causing a car accident by using his Blackberry, which claims the lives of seven people].
2) Can I redeem myself? (am I able to become a good person, or to at least have other people believe that I am a good person?) “In seven days, God created the world, and in seven seconds I shattered mine.”
In the first matter, the individual giving the free gift decides (subjectively) whether or not someone else is worthy of my free gift.
Consistent with the first, the subjective individual is master over his own body and he can decide what is best for himself, just like he does for others.
The two major commanding motifs of the film are moralism and subjectivity. They are the fruit of postmodernism played out. They affirm that there is no absolute moral (or ethical) decision, only my moral (or ethical) subjectivity.
Further, they affirm that there is both good and bad that dwell inside of all of us. If I become conscious of this dualism and work at it, I can overpower the bad that is in me with the good that is in me. In the end, I will have saved myself.
About the Christian Worldview:
We are dead. There is no good that lies within us. My body (and the parts of it) are not mine. My sin, and the death that it causes, are mine. I have tragically underestimated the problem if I think that there is a dualistic nature in me and that I can fix it.
I can do nothing to save myself. I resign to rely not in my self, my knowledge, my nature, or medicine, but in a God with whom dwells all morality and redemption. I have tragically underestimated the solution to the problem if I fail to recognize the seriousness of the problem.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:4-10).