Minority Report

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On the docks in Dumaguete, under a lowering sky that seems about to pour down rain, these people are waiting to travel to unknown destinations. From the look of this crowd, and the boat they are waiting to board, they’re not going to New York, or Paris, or any other glamorous destination. No– someplace nearby, another island: Cebu, Bohol, Mindanao. To work, to visit relatives, to attend a funeral.

They’re not happy about it. The man in front with the deep frown, the one wearing sunglasses on this sunless day– he seems to feel that nothing good will ever come his way, and he hates it. Those around him are restrained, passive, blank; but no more cheerful. It’s a gloomy scene on a gloomy day.

But that’s OK. Times like this are part of the drama of our lives, just as much as sunny days and smiles. We live like waves, with crests and troughs, rising and falling through time; and all of us, in the end, break on the final shore. To pretend otherwise, to only see the sunny crests of time and call that “Life” paints a shallow picture of the world, a picture that is ultimately silly and boring because it’s false.

The great works that we have made about ourselves in music, and art, in dance and drama, are just as often tragedies as comedies. And in the greatest comedies, the shadow of death can be felt beneath the laughter.

The great dramatic stories that have shaped our culture, the story of Adam and Eve, the story of Christ — these are not happy stories; they would be pointless if they were. If Pilate had told Jesus “Don’t worry, be happy” and released with a slap on the back and a laugh, who would care about him now, or even remember him? And of what value would his story be to us?

Smiling faces, sunny days, happy children at play; laughter in the afternoon with loved ones on the beach, or late at night with friends over a beer; these things are real and they happen, all the time. But that’s not all that happens. To picture only happy things is to try to produce a coin with only one side, stamped with a happy face. But a coin with only one side cannot exist.

This picture is about the other side of that coin.




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