Is redemption possible today?
That’s the question my pal, Hub Jones asked me other day. Hub, as some of you know, is a buddy out of nowhere from Connecticut. He’s a bit wild but always worth talking to, well, at least for me.
Anyway, Hub knows I love the theme of redemption. Redemption is a major theme in my first novel, Potential and there’s elements of it in my second, The Last Disruptor.
“But don’t you think it’s played out?” Hub asked via video chat.
Me: No. Well, why do you say that?
Hub: It’s just, you know. Can you really redeem yourself in this age? Everywhere you look, people always bring up someone’s past and generally not for a good reason. You see stars like that Iron guy..
Me: Robert Downey Jr?
Hub: Yeah, that’ guy. Anyway. He’s always having to talk about how he overcame some sort of drug addiction or something or other that happened decades ago, I think. I mean, is that really redemption. If people always want you to talk about it?
Me: Well, I think it depends on who redemption is for. If you redeem yourself, it doesn’t mean all is forgotten…
Hub: But shouldn’t it?
Me: (laughing) I don’t think that’s ever really been the case. I think people always remember when you’re a jerk or screw up.
Hub: But now it’s worse. It used to be just the people who knew you. But now it’s like everyone knows your business. Anything you do might get recorded and exist forever for people to remind you about it. Can there be redemption in a world like that.
Me: Huh. It’s like the old permanent record they used to threaten us with in grammar school is real.
Hub: Exactly! And according to Principal James it never goes away. That’s what he told me all those times in his office.
Me: Yikes. Hmm. I get what you’re saying, but like so many things, as I grow older, I find it’s not so simple. Some people get to move past things once they redeem themselves and some people don’t. But I can tell you from my personal opinion, I think redemption is an internal thing. At least that’s how I see it. When you’ve done something boneheaded or just terrible that you regret, you have to find a way to set yourself right with your own soul…
Me: What ever you want to call it. Your consciousness, your inner vision of yourself. Whatever. (Hub is an atheist) Anyway, I think real redemption lets you set yourself back on the path you want to see for yourself. If you fail to do that, there’s dissonance and you end up conflicted internally and that generally just leads to more problems in your life. If others won’t let you forget about it, well you have to comes to terms with that. You have to accept that others don’t have to accept the corrections you’ve made in life and, this is the most important part, you can’t let their view of you take you off the path you want to walk.
Hub: So is it still worth writing about.
Me: Of course. For the reason you said, that it seems like most of us are never going to be able to truly redeem ourselves and that we have to come to understand what it means to live a good life.
Hub: Well now you’re just talking Greek. (Hub has a minor in classical western philosophy.)
Me: Anyway, I think it’s a good topic and I’m gonna keep following it when it makes sense. And it is possible to explore the theme when a character fails to redeem him or herself, too.
For other examples, I like Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo and the movie, The Best of Times starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell. There are tons of other ones. Feel free to comment with ones you like or even ones you hate.
Keep on writing, keep on running.