I had the pleasure of watching the movie “Pleasantville” tonight, and enjoyed the delightful irony and illumination that the movie offers for our times. As the characters step into their own shadow, color fills the space. At first, it’s the light: knowledge, affection, love. Then it’s lust, violence, anger, and finally love again. Such beautiful symmetry…it all ends up in love. Just like our ephemeral lives, at the end all that matters is love.
At the same time, I had the pleasure of trading comments on Facebook with my stepmom about Roe vs. Wade, the landmark abortion decision by the Supreme Court forty years ago today. I fully support abortion, and have had the painful experience of sharing the procedure on two occasions. Abortion is violent, and as such, I wonder if it is contrary to my Buddhist vow against taking life. But the question is really about “what is it to take a life”? A reading of “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” provides some information, as there is a whole section in the book about choosing your incarnation, seeing the birth canal, and deciding that this life is not the one to choose, to resist the incarnation and not emerge. Clearly, the Tibetans feel that life begins when we pop out of our mother.
This week, we saw the inauguration of President Obama, and heard his speech, bringing a vision of our country with equality for women and different races, marriage for same-sex couples, support for the poor and impoverished. In a very real sense, the battle of the forces in “Pleasantville” reflects the split in our own society and political system. May we all find our way back to the place where our love of each other is more important than our differences of opinion.
And I fervently hope we find our way to live together in a full-color world, with lots of immigrants, women running things, gay couples, abortion, etc. We will. It’s inevitable, like the march of color through the movie.