Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Firefly gives me another hint

Who am I?
That's the biggest question anyone ever asks. It's a tough one. I ponder it a lot, and I am now over a half century old and counting (with my most recent birthday just days past).
Moses: First he was a Prince...
Moses asked that question. “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11, KJV)
God knows who He is, of course, and simply tells Moses “I AM.” It doesn't get simpler (or more profound) than that.
Moses started as a Prince of Egypt, then saw himself as a deliverer of the Hebrew people. He took it upon himself to kill an Egyptian, then hid the body, thinking it was a secret. He had an image of who he was right then, and maybe it was a clear image.
But it was a wrong image.
Because of his actions he had to flee Egypt, flee position and authority and power. He had to abandon everything he knew to that point, including his own concept of who he was.

... then a follower.
Forty years of exile later, a burning bush finally explained to Moses who he was to be. At first, he rejected the task. "Who am I" was the question on his lips. God didn't answer that question, really. Instead God told Moses to simply tell Pharaoh that Moses was sent, an emissary from God Himself, and God revealed who He was.
And Moses found real power, but it didn't come from inside himself, or from the power of his own mind or the power of positive thinking. The authority and power of Moses came directly from "I AM", Y_W_. 
And Moses discovered who he was as he led the people of God (not the people of Moses) from the land of Egypt and toward the promised land.
Not that I compare myself to Moses, nor to Charlton Heston, either.
We all suffer from this question. Perhaps some people find the answer early in life. Maybe that's what makes them successful, but then we need to define success.
Steve Jobs might have known who he was. He sure oozed confidence during the presentations and speeches. He died not long ago, and now people are trying to define who he was. I guess that's from a different perspective, isn't it?

Who are you now, Steve Jobs? Where are you now, Steve Jobs?
In Serenity, the offshoot movie finale of the short-lived, much-loved hit television series Firefly, the Shepherd talks to Mal about belief. Mal gets upset and says that the question always comes up. Shepherd Book basically growls at him, tells him that he has to learn to believe in something.
Near the end of the movie, Mal does believe in something. The antagonist, a killer with no name, asks him if he is willing to die to finish the task before him. Mal answers that he is.
Just not yet.
So Mal finds out what he can believe in and lives on. Does he now know who he is?
Maybe Mal in the movie gives me a hint who I am, or perhaps he gives me a hint how to find out. There will be more on this question in future posts. After all, it's been around for a long time.

(I'll grant this is a cheat, and a placeholder, with a bit more to come, but that's the topic for this Prime Day. I missed one this month. I won't entirely miss the nineteenth.)


  1. I think my favorite part of Mal's scene there was what the task actually was. For example, if he had been willing to die to finish his ham sandwich - or his Twinkie, like that cowboy from Zombieland - it would have been funny, an odd definition to live by. Mal was willing to die for truth. He was also willing to die, I guess, for the freedom to mess up, to be violent and sinful and imperfect without a government coming in to fix it up. That's an interesting dichotomy, the perfect-world-no-sin man with no name versus Mal, "bad," space pirate and rogue and not entirely ethical, but still trying for good underneath all of it. Anyway, I liked the scene because that makes Mal make sense, and it ties together Firefly and Serenity very well, and it makes me want to go take a writing class from Joss Whedon.

    And then beliefs change, and who you are changes. Hey, here's one. What if you believe that what you believe is wrong, but you believe it anyway? ^.^ Eh-heh-heh-heh (Brisco-County-Jr. style laugh). I actually do mean it lightly, though it could be serious. Trying to think of a funny movie quote to illustrate this concept, and as soon as I do, I'll post again. Or contradictory beliefs, those are always fun. People are so deliciously complicated.

    Don't you love my nice long comment? I slept in until noon today. Be jealous. Love you, Dad.

  2. I think Mal, perhaps because of the dichotomy between who he thought he was and who he thought he wanted to be, realized that everyone's concept of perfection is flawed - imperfect. And since he was a Browncoat, the government's notion was entirely wrong.
    Perhaps he was just being contrary.

    There is a part in Second Hand Lions when the boy is talking to Hub by the lake and asks if the stories are true. Hub tells him it doesn't matter; it's the belief in them that counts. Some of the greatest stories forged who I am - King Arthur, Beowulf, Roland, Sigurd, The Lone Ranger, Hercules. Some may be based on history, but the principles of the story remain the thing to believe in.

    I do know some people that believe in something that isn't true. They know it isn't true, but they cling to it anyway. Sometimes a comfortable fiction is easier to live with than the harsh truth.