The Existential Burden Of ’21 Grams’

A small boy hits his sister on an arm, and the girl complains. Their father responds, ‘Hold out your other arm and let your brother hit you… [because] “Whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also.”‘ The boy then hits her other arm. The father later hits the boy on his head and says, ‘There’s no hitting in this house.’ Says the man who just hit his son in the house. And if the concept is to be adhered to, should the boy continue letting himself be hit?

Is this not an example of conflict from self-justification of what could already be ‘vague’? Does the concept of ‘turn the other cheek’ encourage further harm to oneself by others… or not? It is one thing to seek justice, but another to seek vengeance. It is one thing to not be vengeful, but another to allow others to be harmful, to let them create more negative karma. It is one thing to give in to a ‘higher power’ (if it exists), but another to give up personal will and responsibility.

The father gets involved in a hit-and-run accident that kills three. He initially surrenders and decides to just suffer and rot in jail, to the extent of giving up on his family, despite their love and concern, believing that ‘This is God’s will. So be it.’ His wife laments, ‘Two years ago, you didn’t believe in anything. Now, everything has to do with God.’ Was the accident a ‘higher will’s plan, or just an intertwining play of the negative karma of those involved? By whose will should we live and die? As Sartre put it, we are ‘condemned to be free’… to decide. There is no escape from this.

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