Monday, February 27, 2017

A moral center — or the lack thereof

Yesterday I watched the movie “Fences” based on the August Wilson play of the same name and which was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Denzel Washington, who played protagonist Troy Maxson, who worked as a garbageman for the city of Pittsburgh.

In both the play, which I saw in 1989, and the movie Maxson shared his story, running away from his Alabama home when he was 14, eventually ending up in prison, where he developed a love for — and, apparently, some skills at baseball but never made it above the Negro League level because major league teams weren’t interested during his youth. By this time he had become embittered toward the world and in the process driven away virtually everyone he was connected to, including his son Cory, whose football career the son believed he sabotaged out of jealousy; his wife Rose (in the movie, played by Viola Davis, who did with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) when he got another woman pregnant; and even longtime friend Jim Bono.

But while I did develop some sympathy toward Troy Maxson, I couldn’t but notice that he didn’t have a defined moral center. His whole life was based on what he could get at the time; while he demanded credit for taking care of a family, Rose Maxson noted that he had done a lot of taking — and taking people for granted. Eventually Cory ran away to join the Marines and Rose, after cuddling the daugher that resulted from Troy’s dalliance, told him, “You a womanless man.”

After watching the movie, it his me that the attraction to President Donald Trump by many of his supporters was tied to a similar lack of bedrock convictions, theirs as well as his — all that mattered was that they got what they wanted, meaning that folks they considered enemies were defeated. And it didn’t start with Trump, either, as they were willing to believe outright lies against Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, the Democratic Party in general, the mainstream media and anyone else seen as liberal, whether true or not. Consider the name-calling they have to endure — “libtards,” “communists” and the like.

And this is why I consider Christian support for Trump problematic; folks clearly wanted someone who could win, preferably by domination, and to hell with the Constitution or consistent Biblical principles in the process. It should come as no surprise to anyone that our country is divided right now; while Trump didn’t cause the breach, he certainly exploited it for all he could get out of it.

The last scene of the play and movie was the impending funeral of Troy Maxson, with Cory Maxson making it home from the Marines but originally not intending to attend (and Rose reaming him out for even entertaining such a notion). I remembered that singer Wiliam DeVaughn performed a song, “Blood is Thicker Than Water” but also with the following line: “But nothing’s thicker than love.”

And that love was missing in the Maxson household. So it is in America today.

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