Sometimes we might find it difficult to stop ourselves from spreading hate, even when we have good intentions. Why do good people seek revenge? Why should we forgive someone who has done horrible things to us? These two films, The Mustang, and, The Green Mile, both aim to teach us why forgiveness is always in our best interest, and how it plays a role in the outcome of our judgment day.
The Golden Rule
As long as you treat someone the way you want to be treated, you will receive the same behavior in return. If someone mistreats you despite your kind and respectful demeanor, then you know they’re not worth your attention. You don’t have to judge them for their actions, because God does that for you.
The Green Mile
The plot around The Green Mile revolves around Paul Edgecomb, a prison guard who is assigned to taking care of inmates on Death Row before their executions.
Paul doesn’t seek revenge on the inmates for what they’ve done to get to The Green Mile because most of the inmates he has met have already come to terms with what they’ve done, and just want to do their time before they die. Punishing them further just because they’ve done horrible things won’t take away the horrible atrocities they’ve committed. In reality, it’s a horrible reflection of your character to punish people for the bad deeds they’ve done just to feed your desires to feel righteous.
Paul’s job could be described as just “an electric chair operator”. However, his real duties consist of helping his inmates become the best people they can be before they present themselves to God on Judgement Day.
Paul knows it’s not his place to judge his inmates for their actions, as only God has the wisdom to make that call. The qualifications that make somebody eligible for Heaven or Hell are beyond our comprehension, so acting like you know what’s best for people just so you can feel righteous is selfish and immature.
Even if you are non-religious, we can all agree that one person’s opinion can not be representative of what can be right and wrong. Unless our sentience was removed and we became eusocial, nobody could make that call, as there would be too many conflicting ideas and opinions. That’s why forgiveness is the best way to approach this problem, as it’s the only way we can move on from tragedies conflicted by others. They know not what they do, so we can only forgive them for their actions and hope that God will have mercy on their souls.
All you can do that’s in your comprehension as a human being is treat them the way you would want to be treated. This accomplishes two things:
- By treating people with kindness and respect, you’re providing a safe environment for yourself because you’ve proven that you’re not someone people should fear or avoid.
- You’re helping that person become a better human being by reminding them of what it’s like to be loved. By extension, this person will learn by your example and will start spreading love and kindness to the world rather than hatred and suffering.
Bottom line, if someone doesn’t treat you with respect when you’ve done nothing but treat them like a human being, then you know that you can’t trust them with your vulnerability. However, this still doesn’t give you the right to punish them and seek revenge.
We’ve learned in films like Life of Pi that you can’t trust everyone with your vulnerability because some people with ulterior motives could take advantage of you. However, even considering this information, there’s no denying that if you treat someone with respect, you build trust. The only thing you can do that benefits both you and the other person is forgive them for their actions and treat them like you would anyone else.
Dale and Mr. Jingles
Mr. Jingles is a mouse who is adopted by Dale, one of the inmates of The Green Mile.
At the beginning of the film, it’s assumed that this mouse is going to be a nuisance if they don’t deal with him. However, once Dale adopts him as a pet and provides a loving home for him, Mr. Jingles doesn’t have to be a nuisance anymore now that his needs are met. Paul and the other guards come to the logical conclusion that they can prevent further damage to the prison if they allow Dale to take care of Mr. Jingles.
Percy, one of The Green Mile’s bad-mannered guards, treats Mr. Jingles like how many people would treat a mouse. He makes consistent attempts to kill him even after settles in his new home. However, this behavior reminds us that if we treat people with hostility just because of what we see on the surface, we will only see more of what we hate. This also conditions us to always see the worst in people despite their attempts to become better individuals.
Mr. Jingles acted like a nuisance before he met Dale, but he only acted that way to survive. Once he met someone who gave him a loving home for him to thrive, he chose to live that life so his needs could be met. After all, if he chose to live on his own he would probably live much of his days starving. A mouse will do horrible things to your house, but, a mouse who is given a loving home doesn’t have to cause destruction anymore. Of course, I’m not saying you should go around adopting stray mice, but what I’m trying to say is if you treat people with love and respect, you’ll receive the same in return.
He could have regressed into his former lifestyle if he wanted to, but he chose to be with Dale. This proves that there’s more to people than what we see on the surface. Just because something is in their nature doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to be good people.
After Dale was executed, Mr. Jingles was adopted by Paul and the other guards so he wouldn’t have to go back to his former lifestyle, benefiting both him and the prison. All that’s expected of you in this world is to treat people with respect and forgive them for what they’ve done. Leave Judgement up to God.
If you’re picking fights with people just because you’re afraid of opening up to them, you are rejecting their kindness. Opening up to people may feel scary and make you feel vulnerable but it will give you a chance to realize just how amazing it feels to have people around that care about you.
The main plotline of The Mustang is based on a real-life program where prisons will enlist their inmates to train wild mustangs to become suitable for farmers and border patrol officers.
Roman Coleman, an inmate with an especially violent past was assigned to Marcus, a particularly aggressive horse. Roman’s temper is what landed him in prison, and it’s the same thing that prevents him from building relationships with people and his horse.
When Roman was sentenced to 12 years in prison after beating his wife nearly to death, he never wanted to allow anyone to form a close relationship with him because he was too afraid that his temper would hurt someone.
His daughter just wants to reignite their relationship despite everything he’s done as he’s the only father she has. However, Roman’s anxiety about opening up to people and talking about his feelings is so damaging that he’d rather pick fights to push her away.
Many people in prison would give anything to have somebody in their life who loves them like Roman’s daughter. Being heard and being loved is a gift and it’s not something you should take for granted.
After several failed attempts to win Marcus’ affection as a result of his temper, Roman finally exhausts himself and slumps down onto a bench, totally defeated. However, now that he’s shown his vulnerability Marcus can finally feel safe around him and they start bonding together. After feeling how amazing it was to be loved by someone, he felt horrible that he ever tried to push someone away from him just because of a primal fear of anxiety.
After Roman finally developed a strong relationship with Marcus, he was confident that his temper wouldn’t get in the way of his relationship with his daughter. After all, his temper acted as a coping mechanism for his anxiety. Now that he knows what it feels like to allow people to be in his life, he will do everything in his power to control his temper, because he doesn’t want to lose someone who loves him despite his mistakes.
From my personal experience, I’ve found myself actively trying to anger people so that I won’t have to deal with the anxiety of opening up to people. Much like Roman, my temper was a coping mechanism for my anxiety, so that people wouldn’t want to be around me anymore so I could be alone in peace.
Sometimes, I would find myself in conversations where people tell me that I’m disconnected from everyone. To me, it sounded a lot like nagging, but these people just missed me and wanted to see me again. Unfortunately, my anxiety felt more important to me than my relationship with my loved ones, and I reacted to those comments with aggression so I wouldn’t have to talk about the things that bothered me.
However, once Roman had that hard conversation with his daughter in the visiting room, where he finally talked about how horrible he felt that he hurt so many people, it rewarded him with much more progress than if he kept picking fights. Now that his daughter knew that he wanted to move on and build their relationship despite everything that happened, she knew she could trust him with her vulnerability.
It might feel scary to open up to people, but having loved ones in your life is a privilege that not everybody has. It’s selfish to reject people just because of your primal fears of anxiety. Yes, picking fights with people might stop you from feeling anxiety, but it also hurts them that you’d rather be alone than celebrating your relationship with them. When you give people a chance to be close to you, you can start to understand just how amazing it feels to have people in your life who care about you.
I sincerely believe that to rid the world of hate, we have to forgive both ourselves and the people around us for the mistakes we’ve made. The truth behind the human condition is to see mistakes as bad choices. A mistake does not define who you are. Just ask yourself: Why do I value feeling righteous over this person’s redemption? Why do I not want this person to be good? The only person whose righteousness matters is God. Only He can determine who is truly good and who is truly evil. Before you seek revenge on someone based on something they’ve done in the past, ask yourself: Have I made a mistake like this before? How would I feel if someone did this to me after I did something similar? Will this revenge accomplish anything? To answer your question for you, revenge does not accomplish anything. All it does is enable people to spread more hate.
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