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Worms under the Golden Palm… (How movies are a testament to our lower ethical values)

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Photo by David Bartus from Pexels

I have recently seen the South Korean movie “Parasite”, which has recently won also the 2019 Palme d’Or in Cannes Film Festival. As many view the movie as good, which I do too, some also pinpointed the philosophical and sociological questions posed by the movie.

WARNING: Spoilers for the movie “Parasite” and “Joker” will follow!

In short, the movie shows how some low-class people infiltrate the cosmos of a high-class family to earn their trust and money. The plot quickly escalates: The infiltrators initially start with forging some papers to get a job and they finally end up killing people under some very peculiar circumstances.

As the movie tries to show the extremely difficult situation in which the protagonists’ family lives in, it is easy to see it as an attempt to justify – or at least explain – their actions. Extreme poverty and lack of options do provide (at least for some people) a justification for actions which are portrayed by the official justice system as ‘criminal’. However this is not only wrong, but could also be dangerous in the context of a society.

What I do agree with, is that tough society conditions could be a way to explain why someone is behaving in a criminal way. But this explanation has limitations: it is only an explanation and not a justification or an excuse. To elaborate more on this: Harsh conditions make it more probable that someone will behave immorally, but that does not make this right! Sure, if you are very poor you could have more chances to be bad and you would easily have more motivation to do so in order to feed your family for example, but that wouldn’t remove a pinch from the immorality of your actions if those are such. This explanation is what your lawyer would invoke in the court to get you a better sentence, but they would not be accepted as an excuse by a higher authority (call me God). Unless of course you repent which is a different story.

Wait a minute! someone might object. We were talking about criminal actions and now you mention God! How did that happen!?

Well, as I have elaborated in the article “The source of ethics”, there is no point in talking ethics and morality outside the realm of God. In a godless world, there is no point in discussing anything actually. If there is no higher authority setting the standards, we might as well set our own and everything goes! Is that nihilistic? Yes. It is. As is our current society.

The highest standards for morality were set on Earth by Jesus Christ. It is in relation to those standards that we are to compare our actions. He is the measure we should use, not the measure that fits us best. No matter what the excuse (“I was poor”, “I was under stress”, “I had to eat and was so hungry” etc), an evil action is an evil action. Of course – and this is obvious – we are not in the mind of either Jesus or God. So we could not be certain for which actions are actually moral and which are not, although we do have some good indications. For example we all agree that killing is something bad no matter what. You are poor and killed someone? I don’t care. You shouldn’t. (For Jesus it would be evil perhaps even to think about killing someone, but let’s stick to the basics now)

This lowering of our standards is exactly the problem of this movie and with many other movies nowadays. Joker for example also portrays a picture of an ill man who does what he does because of bad society. At the end, the criminal is almost shown as a hero who managed to stand up against the evil of modern society who brought him to the position he was in. Again, for Christ this would not work as an excuse. Sorry Joker. A sequel of “Parasite” would easily be the trial of the protagonists and them going to jail for the crimes they did. But again, that wouldn’t sell much. (And that is perhaps the problem for everything we see lately in the cinema)

Man should always strive for the best.

Theosis should be our ultimate goal.

Unless of course we believe we are worms.Crawling in the dirt.Watching movies…Under a gold palm tree…

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