Seven Pounds: On Suicide

I've been giving this movie a lot of thought lately, given the comments I received on the original post and the conversation it has fostered in my family. Ben Thomas gave of himself, literally and entirely, and that act of charity could be considered a Christ-like act. He gave his life so that others could live and live more fully. He seemed to feel so guilty and depressed for all the damage he caused and the loved one he lost, that allowing others to more fully live their lives was more important than living his own.

The one problem I have with this is that Christ already suffered everything so that we could live more fully; the troubles we experience in this life are for us to learn by. I understand that we are also here on earth to watch over humanity and follow Christ's example by giving of our substance (which is in actuality His anyway) so that we can achieve ultimate happiness in our lives through serving others. But God gave us life and we have no right to take it ourselves. Whether we die because of others' misuse of their agency or of natural causes, we are to live our life to it's fullest until that time - though "fullest" varies in meaning from person to person.

I understand this issue isn't as black and white as I make it sound. I don't know if it's right/necessary for someone to give their life for someone else in a hospital/professional care situation (as in Seven Pounds). But, not all situations are like that. What about rushing out to save a child from being hit by a car, saving the child but killing yourself? I wouldn't call that suicide per se, and acting in that kind of a situation doesn't give you enough time to rationalize if it's right or not and I believe God will take that into account in our final judgement. I think Ben's mental state could be called into question as well, because of his traumatic experience and the visible after-effects, was he fully capable of making a responsible decision regarding his life?

Just because the film depicts a suicide does not make the film an immoral movie. I do believe that suicide is wrong no matter the circumstance, but I do not pretend to know the consequences of such an action. It could be argued that Christ gave his life up for us, choosing to die, but he had the power to save all mankind, his death was necessary for our eternal salvation.

As far as the morality of the movie is concerned, it depends on how the "evil" is portrayed that makes the movie moral or immoral. I think that Ben's suicide wasn't portrayed with the appropriate consequences (keep reading before you start jumping to conclusions on my reasoning). You see the devastation of his legal counsel/friend Dan, and you can pretty well guess the feelings of Emily, but because I feel that suicide is wrong, I think that is the feeling I should have at the end of the movie. I shouldn't come away from the film wondering if killing myself or donating all my organs to people I love (because I no longer have any will to live) might actually be better than continuing to live my life and, with God, better understand the work I need to complete in this life.

As hard as it may have been for Ben, perhaps he should have been asking why he was the one that survived. Surely he was preserved for a purpose. If he was supposed to die, wouldn't God have taken him with the others? Or did God save him so that Emily and others could have a lengthened and richer life?

1 comment:

  1. Ben Thomas was too smart for his own good. He wouldn't let any religious philosophy help him cope with his pain. The fact that the deaths he caused were out of his negligence was unbearable for him, and at least he went out leaving some good behind.

    What if it was God's will that Ben change these peoples lives? God took the Egyptians firstborn. Nephi was commanded to kill Laban. Why? For the greater good. Maybe Ben Thomas' sacrifice and recompense was for the "greater good."