I went to see London Has Fallen. I suppose I’m still accustomed to thinking action films will be fun. But I know too much about violence and what it does to people for that to be true anymore. The heroes lost their friends in gun fights, ended the lives of people around them, and emerged with no adverse effects. They were happy, well-adjusted folk eager to get back to normal life. Just doing their jobs. Psych wards, suicide attempts, and PTSD found no room in this picture.
The other thing I noticed was (again) the gratuitous pitting of bad Arabs against good Americans. Good/bad. Right/wrong. Virtuous/evil. It’s a cut and dry, simplistic view of the world. I know it sells movies just like cowboys and indians did. But it also informs our perceptions of people.
Maybe you are thinking, “Hey it’s just a movie stupid. Lighten up!” I know. But like others in our culture, I have seen the unintended consequences. I have seen the effects of violence on everyone. I was troubled leaving the theater.
My friend and I talked about our experience seeing the film as we walked down the street towards the car. We noticed a middle-aged man standing on the sidewalk. He was thin, wearing shorts, a t-shirt, ankle socks, and running shoes. His arms were by his side with his palms out. They were slightly extended signaling a welcome. He was blindfolded. There was a small whiteboard beside him with the word TRUST written across the top. Under that was the offer of a hug.
I was resistant. Who was this weirdo? I was suspicious. What was this about? But while I was still smarting from my encounter with violence, I thought here is something different.
I thought of the friends who are spread out all over the world with whom I work at Serge. They have laid down their lives to point people to the great affection of the Creator, offered in the life of Jesus. These are people who daily walk into violent places to offer peace and wholeness, or shalom, because that is what Jesus did for them. In doing so they absorbed violence, following in the in the way of our Savior.
These ideas converged in the moments of wondering what to do with this guy offering of a hug. Why not take the offer? It’s the same question people ask when a Serge missionary comes with friendship and a message of hope. A stranger is here offering themselves. Someone is offering to hug me. What will I do?
I marched over and announced “I will take a hug.” His head cocked toward my voice, his hands raised to receive my body, and I fell into his embrace. I lingered, whispering thank you in his ear. He wished me a good day and I released. Emotion swelled into my heart like a cleansing.