How bad can you get?
By Virginia J. Pasalo
I just watched The Dark Knight, a 2008 American superhero film co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film focuses on Batman’s fight against a new villain, the Joker (Heath Ledger) and his relationships with district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and his old friend and love interest assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
This movie points to old truths:
a) The best of us gets corrupted. It is true for St. Michael the Archangel and true also for Judas. I asked myself what is the price of my corruption and I am surprised at myself for the answers to my own questions. The price of corruption can be something other than money, power or fame. It can be something that you are willing to exchange for the life of a loved one. It is easy to say that we cannot be corrupted when not presented with real situations, and imagining these situations makes us realize how vulnerable we all can be.
b) It is also true that when given the choice of who to save, we save those closest to us: our family members, our loved ones. When given the choice to decide on who to save, the one for the greater good (Dent), or a loved one (Dawes), Batman chose to save Dawes. It is excruciating to choose, especially when you are a public official choosing between your avowed political battlecry and punishing acts in defiance to it, especially when committed by a beloved kin. You can indeed face the public, and lie to your teeth, especially when the public readily accepts the lie.
c) The good and the bad reside in each of us. Our capacity for evil is as much as our capacity for good. The Joker exploits this theme and puts it to the test when he placed two explosives on two of the ferries, one ferry with convicts, the other with civilians, telling all the passengers that the only way to save them is to trigger on the other ferry, otherwise, he will destroy both at midnight. The good is seen in several instances, by two ex-convicts who chose not to trigger the explosives despite the threat to their own lives. Often, we find goodness in people we least expect to find it.
d) Good and evil will be a continuing theme in life. Batman will not kill the Joker because his moral code will not allow it, while the Joker will not kill Batman because fighting him is “too much fun”. Batman is an advocate for the rule of law, while The Joker believes that the only sensible way to live in this world is without rules. These opposing philosophies will continue to inspire creative endeavor, codependent on one another.
e) The dilemma of our advocacies is similar to that of Batman. Is our crusade something that has an end? Can we quit what we love to do or what is in our nature to pursue? If and when we have the power, how do we use it? Can we “recognize the difference between attaining that power and holding on to it?”
f) Despite our human weaknesses, it is our greatest hope that we do what is good. We see this in the decision of Batman and Gordon to withhold the truth about Dent realizing that the loss of morale the city would suffer if Dent’s acts of murder were to become known. Batman convinces Gordon to preserve Dent’s image by blaming Batman for the murders. It is also seen in Dawes’ unwillingness to sacrifice her morals and sticking to what is truly important to her.
a square is a square
and a round is a round
unless seen, from the root
but do you care, a hoot?
a square in a round
together, in cahoots.