Sunday, August 26, 2007

Capote and the Good and Evil in My Soul

I just watched a film called Capote, about author Truman Capote and his book “In Cold Blood”. The movie was reminiscent of my favorite author, Stephen King, in that both get a stunningly accurate view of human nature by analyzing the darker side of human nature and comparing it to a more “accepted” values system.

“In Cold Blood” centers on the murder of a family in a sleepy Kansas community that had never been exposed to this type of violence. The movie shows that Capote’s work is a blueprint for understanding the growing divide between the moral and immoral segments of society. And by looking in the face of immorality, it breaks new ground. From the movie:

On the night of November 14th, two men broke into a quiet farmhouse in Kansas and murdered an entire family. Why did they do that? Two worlds exist in this country: the quiet conservative life, and the life of those two men - the underbelly, the criminally violent. Those two worlds converged that bloody night.

I do not believe that society is nearly so black and white. I think that all people have some morality, and all people have some immorality, and we are only talking about degrees. Which, of course, begs the question of what degree of morality or immorality I possess? What’s more, it raises the question of whether the degree of morality can change during the course of an individual’s life. Another quote from the movie:

It's as if Perry [one of the murderers] and I grew up in the same house. And one day he stood up and went out the back door, while I went out the front.

That one certainly had me thinking. I don’t think I went out the back door at all, but during my years of drinking and drugging, I certainly seemed to have exited a side door, or something of the sort. Hell, maybe I climbed out of a window. Meanwhile, you look at my sister, an extraordinary individual who came out of the same house as I did (though she left before the wicked stepfather entered) and I can’t help but wonder what went wrong.

When Perry finally spoke about the night of the murder, some morality showed through. He never had any intention of killing the family, and when his partner spoke of no witnesses, he hoped the family would be left alive. He tried to make the family as comfortable as possible while tied up. And he prevented his partner from taking advantage of the daughter. But suddenly a look by the father triggered one of Perry’s childhood issues, and almost unconsciously he began killing the family.

Similarly, I often felt that I knew right from wrong. But when my issues are triggered, I find myself powerless to do the right thing. Does the fact that my actions are triggered from childhood issues make me not responsible for my actions? Absolutely not, as Capote shows with the death sentence being carried out upon the two murderers. But I can see where they come from, and what will happen if I don’t change my ways, and exit by the correct door now.

I think that, in general, I’m a good person. But the good hasn’t always won out over the evil in this journey of my life. Each day I need to strive to be a better person, and to improve upon my role in this world. And maybe, one day, I can find the front door, and join my sister in being a strong and moral contributor to the world.

Image from The Zippy Catholic.

Posted by Scottage at 1:54 AM / | |