Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lost in Thought: "Ab Aeterno"

I know this is a little late for me with this, but sue me. I've got other things on the go. Anyway, I liked this episode, as I like most episodes of the show, but apparently I don't love it as much as everyone else seems too. It hit a major point in the island's past and even gave more insight into who Jacob and the Man in Black are. It had a strong emotional story for Richard, but I still think "Dr. Linus" was a better episode. For me, maybe I was expecting too much from this one. I was figuring it was going to fill in even more than it did. And as I have stated before, unfulfilled expectations, even unreasonable ones will make you disappointed.

One of my friends called the romantic story as strong as or even better than the episode "The Constant" from Season 4 which I was surprised at. I couldn't really say why at the time I thought that was bizarre, but in reflection I think the story of Desmond and Penny had a lot more build up and had a greater payoff. Meanwhile, we are just introduced to Isabella this episode. I can see parallels in the two stories and in the end, payoff makes me more attached to that other story by far.

Anyway, that all aside, here are my few thoughts on the episode. I am hearing strong arguments now that maybe the Man in Black is not actually a bad guy. This is from one Pearson Moore and honestly, you need to go to sl-lost.com and look for Pearson Moore's writings and reflections on this season's episodes. He has some of the most incredible insight into images and the backgrounds of symbols and in addition is well-versed in theology. He picks up on a lot from watching and he doesn't read spoilers. He delves into what Lost is about and does not care as much about what is happening. Once again, he suggests that maybe the Man in Black is an angel and that Jacob maybe more like the devil.

Pearson also pointed out that when Richard stated that he was in hell, Jacob only refuted the idea that Richard was dead. He could be in hell still, but just not dead.

I like the fact that they are really trying to blur who is good and bad. It is making you really have to look at what is actually evil and good. It is really highlighting for me that in some regards, popular images of what is good and what is evil is almost cartoony. We label something as evil and then that is it. If you are evil, you have no redeeming element to you. But people never consider themselves evil and if they do, then they see no hope for themselves. They have given in that this is their lot in life. Generally, however, people see themselves as good or the very least, not evil. That all of the choices that they make are generally good.

The view of evil is one that is the destruction of life. Tyranny that tries to squash freedom. Evil lacks the ability to love. That it is a force that looks to conquer good. That it wants the world. Almost none of those things can be true. A person does not want those things, typically. The battle I have with myself is not one where I am holding back the urge to kill everyone around myself because I want to see death or I want to exert my power over everything around me. Evil doesn't work like that, but some people kind of look at evil in that regard and thus they believe that they cannot be evil. "Clearly, I must be a good person. I don't want other people to suffer, thus I am good."

Evil is a lot more common than that. In fact, I believe that evil is not a power that is somehow and equal yet opposite to good, but rather a mere corruption of what is good. Usually, a lot of evil that people do come out of a perverted sense of what is good. The other kind is what is more often see and it is purely putting yourself ahead of others.

The first kind is what I see terrorist groups as. These are groups that are almost rooted in a good ideal, but it is taken the wrong way. If it's a religious extremist, they believe that they must bring about the peace that comes from their teachings by wiping out the opponents to their ideal. They view anyone who disagrees with them as oppressive or endangering the good people and thus if the good people (as determined by their religious ideals) are to be protected, the opponents must be punished or destroyed. It's the same with environmental extremists who are trying to protect what they think is important and going to great lengths to do so even if it costs lives. A lot of ideological groups have a root in what is actually a positive thing, but is taken to an extreme length to ensure the dominance of that positive thing. That's why Bond supervillains are kind of funny because how are they even trying to do anything good and how do they get so many henchmen to follow them? Anyways, this is the most dangerous form of evil, but rather an obvious kind because people who are apart of these groups believe they are actually doing good for the world and can be obvious.

The more insidious kind of evil is also the most common and that is the second type I mentioned before. It is where people put themselves first over others. Obviously, we need to take care of ourselves so that way we can be a positive force in our society and we should get to enjoy some good things in life, but it's a tricky line. It's easy to get lazy and generally not hurt others but not actually do anything that helps other people. We're not necessarily a force of evil, but rather a lack of force. If no one is hurting each other, great, but at the same time we are lacking as a society if we are not trying to push ourselves in a positive direction. Being good is more than a lack of hurting others, but rather taking steps to reach out to our fellow humankind.

Generally, Christianity pushes us to actually reach out and do something good and not grow complacent. However, it's easy to become complacent once you've found religion because you have chosen correctly and that is all. Nothing more is required of me. I'm going to kick back and not do anything else and that is the seed of evil. It is when we stop caring. Evil is more present than we care to think. That we are fighting more than we believe.

I might claim to be a follower of Jesus which is all fine, but that doesn't mean I'm good now. Things are a lot more grey than that and that usually does not sit well with a lot of religious people. Lost seems to be pointing at this idea. That what is good and what is evil has less to do with what team you're on and more about the choices you make.

Just because the Man in Black is wanting off the island does not make him a force of evil. It may cause something bad to happen if he leaves, but really he is more selfish than anything else. He's not a malevolent being. He believes in the freedom of the individual to not be shackled into the duty of the community. He supports some good things. The idea that people should get to live how they would like and not live under tyranny. That's a good thing, however, it may come at a cost and that's the problem. He may be willing to sacrifice the good of many for the ideal of freedom for all.

We live in shades of grey and we are surrounded by people who are all trying to figure out what is good. People for the most part do not want to harm to come to others, but at the same time they are not willing to sacrifice themselves for others either. People are usually in the middle avoiding having to do either. Can you really call yourself good, if you are not willing to sacrifice things for other people?

Now, that I finally finished this, I can watch the new episode. I'm pumped.

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