Rarely do life choices come down to “good versus evil” or “good people versus bad people.” (If only it were that easy and convenient.) Ethical choices are almost always negotiated among the realities of good, better and best. That’s why they are so challenging. I’ve been thinking about this because of two films I’ve recently had a chance to see – Arbitrage and Promised Land.
Arbitrage, starring Richard Gere, is something of a financial thriller. Gere plays the role of a New York City hedge fund manager whose company is failing, and so he winds up making decisions that are clearly wrong, but justifies them because he has to support his family and wants to fulfill a major philanthropic commitment to a hospital. I liked the film and it’s definitely worth putting in your Netflix queue.
The other film features Matt Damon in Promised Land. This film is much more nuanced than Arbitrage, and vividly portrays the individual struggle to hold onto one’s soul in a world dominated by corporate greed and power. Not only did I like the film, I highly recommend it to you. It makes you think. It makes you feel. And it’s definitely worth a trip to the theater.
Both films raise important questions about what we do, why we do what we do, and how we find ways of justifying actions that, in the end, are for our personal benefit over against the common good, and at times, over against common decency. Take a Breath today and see a movie.