“The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord.” -Psalm 24:1
One of the most intriguing movies that I’ve ever seen is The Truman Show. The movie stars Jim Carey who plays, the main character, Truman. Truman is presented as a predictable guy who carries out the same monotonous routine everyday. Yet, he longs for something more fulfilling and feels trapped in his small town and the life that he has for himself. What Truman doesn’t know is that his entire life is being filmed and broadcast to the world. The small town that he lives in is all just a big stage.
The wife that he married, his best friend, his neighbors, and everybody in his life are all actors. He’s being watched, he’s being followed, and he’s being pressured to do what everyone around him wants, so that they can continue to have their TV show, which is, in fact, his human life. It turns out that Truman was adopted at birth and pretty much used as a lab test subject for a social experiment. The world had been following and watching his life from the time he was born up until the point where Truman is presented as a husband, a friend, and a professional who is unsatisfied with the mundaneness of his life.
Truman knew something wasn’t right about his life. He could tell people were following him. He could see people making gestures at each other about him while trying to get him not to see – like the rubbing of a nose or pretending to cough up a lung kind of a signal to someone. He could feel the disingenuousness of the people around him. They would smile in his face but scheme behind his back to try to force him to stay on what was their TV show – their entertainment, but his life.
Truman tries to leave on a boat. They poke a hole in it. Truman tries to leave the town on a ferry. They close it. He finds a canoe and paddles out into the middle of the water. They create a hazardous rain and thunderstorm right over his head. Finally, determined to leave and convinced that things just weren’t adding up around him, he makes it out to what is the edge of their stageset of an ocean horizon and sees that it’s just a piece of cardboard. The gig was up. He knew then for sure that his life, his surroundings, his world was all scripted just to keep him in bondage to their needs for entertainment.
The producer of the show of Truman’s life then made himself known and talked to Truman through a microphone that was planted on the set. He told Truman that he had rescued him as a child and that he was god, the creator of the Truman universe.
The movie was groundbreaking. For one, it revolutionized what we have and think of today as reality TV. It also raised philosophical questions about God, about ethics, and about what is acceptable in a society. Just think about it. The entire world was treating Truman like a character in a play or a book. They violated his entire being every single day by looking in on his life – when he woke, when he ate, when he slept, when he worked, when he was intimate with his wife, when he drove his car, when he went to the bathroom, when he showered, and when he, pretty much, did anything. And, he didn’t even know it.
They invaded his life and his privacy. They tried to, essentially, make themselves his god – just like the producer said. It was as if, in their minds, they owned him because they engaged in unethical behavior by disrespecting him as a fellow human being and watching his every single move, every day, without his consent. It really was dehumanizing. They were abusing Truman. They were stealing from him. They were infringing upon his basic God-given rights as a human being. And the masses actually engaged in it all by looking on, by deceitfully orchestrating events in his life to hurt Truman and to keep him where they wanted him to be – right in their hands, in their living rooms, and on their TVs.
I’m so glad that that was just a movie – fiction – and that our world hasn’t come to a dismal, dark, and demented place like that. It would be a destructive place where all mores and ideals of right and wrong are skewed – where people abuse one person, as a collective mob, and it is deemed acceptable in the eyes of the majority. I’m also glad that the true Creator and Maker of heaven and earth is not like that producer. God gives us the choice to live our lives how we want. He doesn’t force us to stay anywhere we don’t want to be or do anything that we don’t want to do. God gives us free will. They took away Truman’s ability to live freely without invasion of his privacy and without others maliciously seeking to setup the events of his life and those around him.
What kind of a sick and twisted world would that be to live in? How could anyone ever be trusted? Who could be expected to flourish in a society like that, where basic tenets of justice, of rightness, and of respect are completely dismantled. I imagine it’d be a world where it would be acceptable to burglarize someone’s home – where the thief would feel justified because they politely broke-in and didn’t break a window or because they helped the homeowner off the floor before they left after knocking her down. None of that would have been an issue if you never broke-in in the first place.
It’d probably be a world where it’d be acceptable for a perverted male to ravage a woman in her sleep while people looked on without pause or without an urgency to help. It’d be a world where obsessed and desperate news reporters would go to lengths that display a lack of integrity and character just to get a news story. I’m sure it’d be a place where reporters would resort to force to get an interview. They’d violate all principles of ethics and morality and interview people in their sleep, who they couldn’t get to while they were awake, just to get a story – that’s not even true to start. By the way, how can anyone expect to get truth from someone when they are unconscious – either partially or fully? That baffles me. If someone is asleep and you’re talking to them, you’re only getting pieces of a subconcious mind that is probably imagining up things, about something totally different, in a dream anyway. That’s not a very smart or kind thing to do. It’s also not smart to expect that you are getting a full, valid, or accurate answer either. It’s actually pathetic.
I think if we lived in a world like Truman’s, it’d be a world where all concepts of what is right would be subverted. People would begin to feel entitled to others’ personal belongings, their private time and space, and even their thoughts. People would make themselves to be gods over other people. The practice of slavery has been abolished, though. Thankfully, God has made it known to all when he said, “Look, every life belongs to Me” (Ezekiel 18:4). He also has proclaimed, “I, the Lord, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10).
It’s God who owns the world and everyone in it. It’s for God to examine the mind and the heart – not another person. (You can know every minute detail about a person’s life, but if you don’t know their heart, then you don’t know the person. Similarly, you can know few details about a person’s life, but if you know and see their heart, then that’s what’s truly knowing someone.) It’s also for God to give to each person according to what they deserve – not man. That’s God’s job, and no human can take the place of God in that respect or any other.
All the while that Truman was trying to determine what was going on around him and to get away from it all, like with any protagonist, I was rooting for him. At the end when he finally figured it was all a sadistic scheme to hurt him and to keep him from living the life that he desired, I just wanted him to say: You don’t own me. I do not belong to you. You don’t have the right to violate me. You have invaded my home, my job, my family, my friendships – my entire life. You don’t get to disrespect me. You don’t have the right to try to control my life. You don’t have the right to film me. You don’t have the right to follow me. You don’t have the right to be rude to me. You do not have the right to broadcast my life to the entire world. You don’t have the right to my private life and my personal information. I am a human being. I must be respected. Every person must be respected. It is my God-given right to live freely as I choose without the entire world infringing upon my rights to live without harassment and without threat to my well being and to those around me. You cannot continue treating me like some test subject for your social experiment-gone-wrong. An adoption for a new life was great, but you took it too far. Letting me live my life quietly, in private, with close family and friends, without creating a destructive world for me and those close to me would have sufficed. You have violated me as a human being and treated me with contempt and as less than a human. You do not have a right to force yourself into my thoughts nor my daily living. My life is my business and noone else’s that I do not choose to share it with. Stop mistreating me. Stop abusing me. Stop following me. Stop filming me. Stop invading my privacy. Worry about your own lives. Leave me alone. Let me be. And show me the respect that is due every human being upon this earth.
Well, Truman didn’t say all of that. I don’t think he said any of it. But as he exited the stage that he had been living on and unknowingly performing on for the entire world his whole life, Truman befittingly and assertively uttered his daily mantra that was probably the only thing in his world that was really truly his. “Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”
“For none of us belongs to himself, and no one dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” -Romans 14:8